Free State eyes GSSC model
Despite facing capacity issues, funding shortages and outdated technology systems, the Free State province will spend millions on a shared services centre to centralise government functions.
The provincial government noted that it would introduce a shared service centre, based on a model of the Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC). The centre will initially include ICT and legal services, government communication and procurement services, and will be established by the end of the province's current financial year.
In August, Free State premier Ace Magashule noted that the Directorate of Information Technology faced “serious capacity problems and an outdated network and equipment”. Despite this, the government states its ICT services will be expanded to facilitate the achievement of e-government.
While the province could not reveal the cost of the proposed centre, it will be funded under the province's Institutional Enhancement programme, which was allocated R42.9 million for the 2009/10 financial year. The Free State Training and Development Institute, human resource projects and a call centre, which will be run by the centre, would also be funded under this programme.
While the GSSC has been plagued by several problems over the years, the Free State government says the best model and practice for its centre has been finalised and will be implemented this year.
The GSSC was piloted for three years before it was officially implemented in 2005. While the centre was hailed for centralising financial, procurement and technology services across municipalities in the province - it was also criticised by Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane for poor service delivery.
In 2009, the GSSC battled a R1.7 billion payment backlog after it failed to pay numerous suppliers since April 2008. The centre was also accused of impropriety, following the awarding of a R2 billion schools ICT tender. Major projects, such as the Gauteng Link broadband project, are also yet to be implemented by the centre.
Not quite ready
The Eastern Cape government, which faces similar issues as the Free State, has decided to postpone the implementation of its shared services centre.
The provincial government says the project was initiated due to the lack of capacity in departments and skills shortage in the province. While the province visited the GSSC to benchmark and learn from its best practices, the department noted it would have to take a different approach to creating a centralised environment.
“The initial assessment indicated that, while the concept was good for the province, economical and technological circumstances in the province were different compared to Gauteng,” says the Eastern Cape government.
The province has decided to appoint a service provider to conduct a feasibility study to guide the province in implementing its shared services delivery approach.