A recent auditor-general (AG) report on National Audit Outcomes cited the lack of adequate IT systems across the South African government as a key obstacle to service delivery.
As anyone who lives in the republic will confirm, service delivery is a highly contentious and politicised issue, both during and between elections.
In short, the AG found that practically none of South Africa’s national government departments and public sector entities have sufficient IT systems in place.
That is an emphatically damning statement.
Failure to Secure Strategic Assets
Fact is that “public sector departments and public entities are heavily reliant on IT systems to perform their statutory financial management, reporting and administrative functions.”
The report further lamented the lack of adequate systems to protect vital organisational data, stating: “Information processed and stored on IT systems is seen as a ‘strategic asset that is vital to the accuracy and reliability of the financial (and performance) information used by management during the planning, monitoring and reporting phases.”
Clearly the loss, destruction and inadequate management, of mission critical data are some of the major obstacles standing in the way of effective service delivery.
Lack of Accountability and Control
The impact of IT system failure on government’s ability to perform and exercise prudent financial management is further highlighted by investigations into alleged irregularities and corruption in the Limpopo Province.
According to Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, “one of the major reasons for the province’s 3 billion rand budget deficit is that its information technology systems are in a mess, with gaping security holes and little controls in place to prevent access to (and tampering with) financial information.”
A fact not unique to the Limpopo Province it has to be said, with the AGs report finding that information security controls (which aim to stop unauthorized access to networks, information etc) were inadequate at 81% of audited government departments and 92% of audited public entities.
Added to that the AG found control weakness at all departments relating to IT service continuity, with deficiencies varying between a failure to backup user and organizational data and a lack of business continuity, to effective disaster recovery planning.
Recent incidents involving data located on State Security laptops and desktops just add further weight to the AGs report.
With service delivery a key measure of government’s success, the importance of swift and decisive action cannot be stressed enough.
Now is the time.
By Brandon Faber, Marketing Manager for Cibecs
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