Hi-tech system will nab truants
New IT set to revolutionise project management at infrastructure development department
At the click of a button, Gauteng’s department of infrastructure development can tell you what new schools and hospitals are being built – and which employees are goofing off on site.
Thanks to a new IT management system, the department can give you real-time information about all the construction projects under way in the province.
The system, housed at Lutsinga House in the Johannesburg city centre, looks like a normal boardroom with a large monitor, conference call facilities and three large screens. But as soon as the screens light up, the place is transformed into a sophisticated data centre churning out real-time graphs, pie charts, pictures and figures about all the province’s construction projects, buildings and land.
The data include each project, where it is located, its project manager and their contact details, the status of construction and how it is proceeding against expenditure, the expected time of delivery and the value of the project.
Demonstrating the system, MEC Jacob Mamabolo clicked on a button and immediately all the names of the department’s Expanded Public Works Programme employees were displayed on a screen.
The system showed when they arrived at work, what they did and when they left.
“Look at this one, on this day she arrived at 11am and left at 12pm. We can’t pay her for a full day. Before we implemented this, we would have been forced to pay her for an entire day,” he said.
He clicked another button and the screens displayed the Qoqa Secondary School, which is now being built.
“As you can see here, it shows that 31% of the expenditure has been claimed but the system says the construction is at 0%.
“Something is wrong somewhere and the project manager has to account for it,” he said, adding that the system will monitor contractors daily.
“The days of contractors running away with money without having done anything will be a thing of the past,” he said.
Mamabolo clicked again and it showed that an artisan at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital took eight days to fix a minor problem. “He has to tell us why,” said Mamabolo, adding that he conceived the system after having been involved in the project to turn “Horror Affairs” into Home Affairs in 2007.
“The real issue here is transparency into project management. You must be able to see which projects are beginning, which are ending and what the relationship is between the two. If you don’t have this, people can tell you lies.
“Running government money through an endless drainage system has to end,” said Mamabolo.
The system, he said, would make it possible for him to monitor whether all managers were delivering projects at cost and at the required quality.
“If you can’t monitor those, how on earth do you work?”
The system has also helped the province compile an inventory of everything it owns. It can tell you how many immovable properties it owns, where they are, their value, status and what they are used for.
“The municipal evaluation of what we own is about R30 billion. But I can put my head on a block that a market value evaluation will be over R50 billion,” Mamabolo said.