The management of information inside the general support base concept of the South African National Defence Force

Bester, Christoffel (2003-12)

Thesis (MMil)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Managing any government institution has become increasingly complicated as the requirements for accountability; streamlined operations and greater flexibility have multiplied. As effective and efficient management becomes more complex and the demands of constant change are more insistent, consequently the role of information as an organisational resource assumes greater importance for management on all levels inside the organisation. Management relies heavily on information to thrive. The value of information is derived from the actions that managers take as a result of using information. Information management consumes a large portion of any organisations finite resources and it would be to the benefit of the South African National Defence Force to achieve goal congruence between the information management objectives and the organisational objectives. If information is to be viewed as a resource of comparable importance to staff assets, and finance it must be procured and managed as purposefully as any other resource. Information can be seen as a strategic resource for any organisation and must be managed accordingly. The Public Service Act, Act 103 of 1994, which classifies information as a strategic resource for the public sector, confirms this. The formal information management strategy of the Department of Defence must therefore enable the information systems of the South African National Defence Force to support the military and business objectives of the Department of Defence. This strategy specifies how an organisation matches its scares resources and capabilities with the opportunities in the environment to accomplish its objectives. The structure of the South African National Defence Force, before transformation, was centralised and structured into vertical silos. The current information systems in use are therefore functionally orientated supporting the centralised structure (vertical silos). Transformation restructured the South African National Defence Force into a more integrated forces concept (general support base concept), suggesting emphasis on co-operation, joint planning and joint operations. The management of information must move away from the islands and silos towards an integrated and shared environment that enables the integration of information amongst the integrated forces of the organisation. This joint engagement strategy places certain requirements on the resource information to enable it to support the military and business strategy of the Department of Defence. The South African National Defence Force is moving unavoidably closer to an accountability framework based on transparency and compliance with legislation and regulations. An integral part of this framework is the requirements to provide clear and unambiguous evidence of how and why decisions are made. If managers and commanders are going to be more accountable, information must be available to assist them in decision-making and control. With the introduction of the Public Finance Management Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the ability to adhere to the requirements of accountability and responsibility has become a necessity. Relevant and timely information for decision-making and control purposes therefore must be provided to managers and commanders to assist them in decision-making and control. In its present state the available architecture of the information systems of the South African National Defence Force is inadequate to provide the required information for decision-making and control purposes. The information management practices including the information systems therefore must be improved to ensure adherence to the requirements of accountability and responsibility. This study is directed towards the improvement of the quality of information provided by the information systems of the Department of Defence to assist commanders and managers in decision-making and the provision of information for control purposes inside the general support base concept of the SANDF. This improvement can only be achieved by changing budget priorities to ensure a higher priority on information technology across the organisation. Failure to improve the information management practices will result in the ineffective execution of the defence strategies.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die bestuur van enige regeringsinstansie raak toenemend kompleks namate die eise van aanspreeklikheid, operasies en groter buigsaamheid meer word. Soos doeltreffende en doelmatige bestuur meer gekompliseerd en die vereistes vir voortdurende verandering meer veeleisend raak, word die rol van informasie as 'n organisasie hulpbron al hoe belangriker vir bestuurders op alle vlakke binne die organisasie. Bestuurders steun sterk op informasie om suksesvol te wees en die waarde van informasie word dan juis bepaal deur die aksies wat bestuurders neem deur informasie te gebruik. Informasiebestuur neem 'n groot deel van enige organisasie se beperkte hulpbronne in beslag en dit sal voordelig wees vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag om doelwitooreenstemming te bewerkstellig tussen informasiebestuurdoelwitte en organisasiedoelwitte. Indien informasie gesien word as 'n hulpbron van betreklike belang vir personeel, bates en finansies moet dit net so doelgerig as enige ander hulpbron bekom en bestuur word. Informasie is 'n strategiese hulpbron vir enige organisasie en moet dienooreenkomstig bestuur word. Dit word bevestig deur die Staatsdienswet, Wet 103 van 1994, waarin informasie as 'n strategiese hulpbron in die staatsdiens geklassifiseer word. Die formele informasie bestuurstrategie van die Departement van Verdediging moet dus die informasiestelsels van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag in staat stel om die militêre en besigheidstrategie van die Departement van Verdediging te ondersteun. Hierdie strategie spesifiseer hoe 'n organisasie sy skaars hulpbronne en vermoëns verbind aan geleenthede in sy omgewing om sy doelwitte te bereik. Voor transformasie was die struktuur van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag gesentraliseerd en in vertikale silo’s gestruktureer. Die informasiestelsels huidig in gebruik is derhalwe funksioneel georiënteer en ondersteun die sentrale struktuur (vertikale silo’s). Danksy transformasie is die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag hergestruktureerd in 'n meer geïntegreerde magtekonsep ("general support base concept") met die fokus op samewerking, gesamentlike operasies en gesamentlike beplanning. Die bestuur van informasie moet wegbeweeg van die eilande en silo’s-benadering na 'n meer geïntegreerde en gedeelde omgewing wat die integrasie van informasie tussen die geïntegreerde magte van die organisasie moontlik maak. Hierdie gesamentlike strategie stel sekere vereistes aan die hulpbroninformasie om die ondersteuning van die militêre en besigheidstrategie van die Departement van Verdediging moontlik te maak. Die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag beweeg onvermydelik nader aan ‘n aanspreeklikheidsraamwerk wat gebaseer is op deursigtigheid en die nakoming van wetgewing en regulasies. ‘n Integrale deel van hierdie raamwerk is die vereiste om duidelike en betroubare bewyse oor besluitneming te verskaf. Indien bestuurders en bevelvoerders meer aanspreeklik gehou gaan word, moet informasie beskikbaar wees om hulle by te staan in besluitneming en beheer. Met die implementering van die Wet op die Bestuur van Openbare Finansies ("The Public Finance Management Act") en die Wet op Openbaarmaking van Informasie ("Promotion of Access to Information Act") het die vermoë van organisasies om te voldoen aan die vereistes van aanspreeklikheid en verantwoordelikheid ‘n noodsaaklikheid geword. Relevante en tydige informasie vir besluitneming en beheer moet dus voorsien word aan bestuurders en bevelvoerders om hulle by te staan in besluitneming en beheer. Die huidige stand van argitektuur van die informasiestelsels van die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag is onvoldoende om die vereiste informasie vir besluitneming en beheer te verskaf. Die praktyke vir die bestuur van informasie moet dus verbeter word om uitvoering te gee aan die vereistes van aanspreekilikheid en verantwoordelikheid. Hierdie studie is gerig op die verbetering van die gehalte van informasie wat verskaf word deur die informasiestelsels van die Departement van Verdediging om bevelvoerders en bestuurders by te staan in besluitneming, asook die verskaffing van informasie vir beheer doeleindes binne die "general support base"-konsep van die SANW. Hierdie verbetering kan slegs bereik word deur begrotingsprioriteite te verander om te verseker dat ‘n hoër begrotingsprioriteit op informasietegnologie geplaas word reg deur die organisasie. Die onvermoë om die informasiebestuurspraktyke te verbeter sal die bereiking van die verdedigingstrategieë nadelig beïnvloed.

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