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March 14, 2017

Automation is a weapon in fighting corruption

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE CORRUPTION?

Given the importance of public confidence to the smooth functioning of governmental mechanisms, there is the expectation from citizens that government should promote principles of good governance and high standards of integrity in public service. The public cannot be effectively governed if such public believes officials to be corrupt, even where they are not.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is therefore the entity concerned with the accountability and transparency of government, providing checks and balances to identify, prevent and rectify abuses of public power. The Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC) is tasked with investigating, monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the integrity of public administration in South Africa.

“We deal mainly with grievances and complaints,” says Mpho Basitere, CIO of the Office of the Public Service Commission. “Part of our mandate includes the management of the National Anti-Corruption Hotline for the Public
Service,” continues Basitere, “which was established in 2004 and outsourced for many years.

“The Commission took a decision to bring this back in-house with the aim of creating a central database for the reporting and monitoring of alleged corruption in the Public Service,” he explains.

By creating a single national hotline, available resources could be more effectively coordinated and challenges more realistically addressed. “The difficulty we faced within our organisation was that most of our critical processes were manual or paper-based. We were often in a situation where different branches or units within our organisation would be sitting with a spreadsheet or an important report that cannot interface with our other systems, which resulted in poor information management and ineffective complaints investigations,” Basitere recalls.

COMPLEX CHALLENGES REQUIRE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS

Aware of Boxfusion’s SmartGov offerings, the OPSC selected a customised solution (which laid the foundation for SmartGov for Citizens) as there was no module that would have fully addressed their complex needs.

“When we engaged with Boxfusion they developed our solution in line with our exact requirements to automate case management. We didn’t take an existing solution, like eSubmissions, although we could even at that early stage see that there is a need for it. We set that functionality aside for later and focused on where we could make the most
impact,” Basitere says.

By delivering a customised solution, Boxfusion assisted the OPSC with the development of an automated grievances and complaints management system that integrates with the call centre and case management systems for the NACH. Those systems previously operated independently without the ability to share information with each other.

“The process with Boxfusion was quick. We started working on automating the case management systems in September last year, and they understood our urgency. We needed to go live on the third of January and when that day came, we were up and running,” Basitere enthuses.

“The adoption has gone well, and I can say this because there is buy-in from the top and there is a lot of excitement internally,”

ROCKET-FUELLED RESULTS

The Office of the Public Service Commission has indicated that it is at a point where it can now start generating reports from the integrated systems, which will be addressed in their second system release. Once the OPSC is able to draw on stats and figures from the systems, the entity will be better equipped to assess the effectiveness of their actions in combatting corruption.

While discussing the benefits of working with Boxfusion, Basitere notes that “when we speak a business language, Boxfusion has skilled resources that are capable of translating that into IT language,”

“As for our plans for the future we’re working on tackling electronic submission functionality, because if we want to say we have fully automated our processes we must be at a point where there is no paper generated at any stage. From the time of lodging a complaint, through to an investigator’s report which is generated as a submission and sent to the powers that be, the entire process must be concluded electronically and submissions must be moved automatically from Person A to B on the system,” Basitere concludes.

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