Repositioning the Public Sector for better service delivery

In South Africa, UNDP’s support on governance issues is mainly focused on the strengthening the public sector’s performances, as well as the enhancement of accountability, as this will eventually contribute to the democratic processes towards human development. This is in line with the repositioning process of the CO towards a more upstream engagement with the Government of South Africa.

A study conducted by the Government’s Policy Coordination and Advisory Services in 2008, titled “Towards the 15 year Review of the Public Service” affirms that South Africa has made significant progress over the past years in the building of a democratic government, both in terms of meeting the basic needs of its citizens as well as institutional transformation. However, the Review also pointed out that the quality of public service delivery was in need of a sizable improvement in many areas, including a strong ethos of public service. It is in this regard that the UNDP in South Africa has partnered with the Department of Public Administration & Services and Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs. 

At the same time, the Minister of the Department of Public Administration and Services commissioned a study on the repositioning of the public service, and the UNDP was requested to support the process.  The objectives of the study were to provide an overview of the public service, as well as to identify those policies, strategies, mechanisms and processes within the public service, that will assist the government of South Africa to achieve its objective of building a developmental state.  UNDP contributed as such:

  • Conceptualisation of the process and methodology;
  • Institutionalisation of the process, which included the establishment of the Project Management Unit, National Reference Group, and 9 provincial repositioning processes;
  • Facilitation of knowledge exchange to enhance and expand the knowledge base of the South African repositioning process; and
  • Oversight to ensure quality, participatory and inclusive process. 

To date, the Government Governance Cluster has presented the draft document to the Minister, who will now present to Cabinet, to be followed by a Green Paper and then a process on the finalisation of the White Paper.

The eventual document will be titled “White Paper on Transforming the Public Service”.  This document will be in the form of a strategic document that will inform the Public Service on how to implement the country’s National Development Plan: Vision for 2030, which was presented to Parliament in August 2012.  It will also guide all spheres of government in consolidating the gains made to-date and improving their service delivery initiatives in the context of a developmental state. Discussions are also underway with the National Planning Commission to ensure the full alignment to the National Development Plan Vision 2030.



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