The Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle
In his 2015-16 local government audit outcomes report, Auditor General Kimi Makwetu stressed the importance of municipal leaders using the “plan, do, check and act” cycle to continuously improve the processes, outcomes and services of their municipalities.
Spend sufficient time and consult widely to clearly define the targets that should be achieved by the municipality in terms of audit outcomes, service delivery (including project delivery and infrastructure maintenance) and financial health.
Municipalities should consult audit action plans, the new integrated development plan, service delivery and budget implementation plans, annual budgets, and maintenance and project plans.
These targets should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Responsibilities for achieving the targets should be allocated and sufficient time and resources should be provided to ensure that performance is managed through robust internal control and strong financial management.
Good internal control is the key to ensuring that municipalities deliver on their priorities in an effective, efficient and economical manner.
Municipal managers, senior managers and municipal officials should embrace the responsibility to implement and maintain effective and efficient systems of internal control.
Because of this, the key positions of municipal manager, CFO and head of the SCM unit should be filled with properly skilled and qualified people. When these positions are stable, audit outcomes tend to be good.
Municipalities with poor audit outcomes can strengthen their financial and performance management through effective leadership, audit action plans, proper record keeping, daily and monthly disciplines, and reviewing and monitoring compliance.
A key element of internal control is monitoring by the different assurance providers to ensure internal controls are adhered to, risks managed, and outcomes achieved.
“We urge the new administration to ensure that all the assurance providers understand their roles, are equipped to perform their functions and are given the authority their role requires, and that the outcome of their monitoring and oversight is appropriately responded to,” the Auditor-General said.
Accountability means that those performing actions or making decisions are answerable for them.
It also means there should be consequences for transgressions, lack of action and poor performance. Municipalities should implement consequence management for officials who fail to comply with applicable legislation, while appropriate and timely action must be taken against transgressors.
All parties, including those charged with governance and oversight, should be prepared to act. This will result in accountability being enforced and consequences instituted against those who intentionally fail to comply with legislation.