A public sector integrated financial governance framework
Thesis (PhD (School of Public Management and Planning ))—University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
Using an investigative approach the study starts by outlining the governance quandary that exists within the public sector, with observations made over the past decade by scholars and active role players in the governance arena both in the private sector and in the public sector. It continues to show a growing need for good governance in the public sector, especially in the developing economies of emerging democracies. It uses South Africa as an example in this regard, although the discussion can just as well be applied to other countries finding themselves in a similar situation. It places the governance debate in perspective and provides the background for the development of the Public Sector Integrated Financial Governance Framework (IFGF). A brief look is taken at the reasons for the growing focus on governance in general, governance in the private and public sector, the need for governance, the basic dynamics of governance, stakeholder relationships, the regulatory framework and the role of the judiciary. It then places this understanding of governance – from a financial perspective – within the South African context. Using the South African context the study discusses the need for an IFGF, the basic requirements for such an IFGF and then as a response proceeds to discuss the role of values and principles, functional application areas and governance-related activities in an IFGF. It develops a financial governance universe, which provides an overview of the various subsections within these aspects. From this basis the study proceeds to develop the IFGF by identifying specific principles and values applicable to South Africa, followed by a description of functional application areas consisting of leadership, management and control practices required as a minimum to ensure healthy public sector financial governance. It continues to develop governance-related activities based on existing frameworks recognised by public sector agencies globally and in some instance, designed for the private sector. The study proceeds to develop these areas to enable employees in the public sector to discharge their duties in a manner that can form the cornerstone in governance excellence. Having used a deductive approach during the first few chapters to develop the IFGF, the study then proceed using an inductive process to construct the conditions and the related activities required by the IFGF. It develops detailed information on specific activities that must be in place for the IFGF to be functional. These activities provide the “how” and are grouped together based on a recognised framework. Governance effectiveness depends on a situation where all areas are considered. Lastly the study focuses on the conclusions regarding the IFGF outcomes and therefore discusses the implementation of the IFGF and the impact on the accounting system, measuring governance and keeping the IFGF updated with developments internally and externally. The study shows the growing importance for developing countries and emerging economies to demonstrate healthy governance processes and practices. However, no consensus yet exists on the approach or methodology, particularly with regard to building national ownership of and political commitment to governance (Landell-Mills, 2003:369). Fortunately similar initiatives have been forthcoming from a number of countries and, although they are each focussed differently, they provide a base for developing a public sector IFGF for South Africa in particular, but can also be used as a guideline for other emerging democracies. Developing the governance universe facilitates the process of keeping track of a multitude of possibilities that are relevant in day-to-day management. The study determined the applicable criteria that an IFGF must satisfy to attract attention when funding is required from the donor community and to provide assurance to stakeholders with limited skills and knowledge that objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently in an ethical environment. The benefit of this framework is that it has passed the first scrutiny in South Africa namely that of the Provincial Treasury of the Provincial Government Western Cape (PGWC) public sector audit committees in the public sector (PGWC) and is currently being subjected to a four-year implementation process, starting with an awareness phase in all Departments of the PGWC. During this process the senior management of all the departments are being exposed to the principles contained in the IFGF and their practical observations and suggestions will be applied towards formulating an updated version of the Governance Framework of PGWC (Draft version 2.20e). This is significant, because it represents a healthy interaction between academic research and practical application, a process that is more often than not balanced, but appears to be in favour of either the one or the other.