Managing public policy implementation : a critical review of the implementation of the child support grant in South Africa between 2000 and 2004.
Policy implementation is an important aspect of service delivery. It is a process that requires all the involved parties to work together. In addition, the policy to be implemented has to be preceded by extensive planning and capacity to ensure effective implementation. According to Parsons (1995:465), "effective implementation requires a good chain of command and a capacity to co-ordinate and control...". The Child Support Grant (CSG) is one of the social security grants created by the South African Government to offer financial support to children in need. The CSG is the one that is widely accessed by children. This grant has reached millions of children in South Africa since its initial implementation; however a large number of children still do not receive this grant due to administration problems (Skweyiya 2005:2). This research project provides a critical analysis of the implementation of CSG between the years 2000 and 2004. A conceptual analysis (content analysis) of secondary studies on the implementation of the Child Support Grant is the scope of this investigation. The study analysed the manner in which the CSG had been implemented by the Department of Social Development (DSD) between the years 2000 and 2004. The findings show that there were many problems that related to the administration of the CSG. The problems ranged from lack of capacity (human as well as organizational) by government officials, to the mode (top-down) of implementation, the employment of bureaucratic methods of implementing policy, lack of system upgrade, street level bureucrats methods of implementing policies and insufficient monitoring and evaluation by the National Department of Social Development. The DSD neglected to provide infrastructural support to facilitate the additional number of beneficiaries that resulted from the extension of the CSG to children under 14 years old. These organizational capacity development problems manifested in the lack of sufficient equipment in welfare offices. Many welfare offices did not have essential equipment (such as chairs, working computers and working telephones) needed to perform their duties. Technical resources such as working computers and telephones are an essential part of implementation. Lack of proper monitoring and evaluation of the administration of the Grant has created loopholes in the system that have cost the Department about R1.5 billion each year from 2000 to 2004. Another problem was that there were staff shortages in most areas. In areas where staff was available they lacked the capacity to administer the Grant. As a result, wrong information was disseminated to the public concerning the eligibility for the CSG. The data capturing system the Department uses, Social Pension System (SOCPEN), had not been upgraded to handle greater numbers of applicants. This has led to applicants not being processed, thus affecting service delivery. The study has shown the impacts these problems can have on policy. Due to the manner in which policy was implemented the DSD ended up losing money, which was intended for beneficiaries, through fraud and maladministration. In addition to money lost, potential beneficiaries could not access the Grant due to obstacles created by government officials as their way of implementing policy effectively. According to Lipsky (1980:149), low ranking street level bureaucrats create ways of coping with their duties through simplifying their authority. This enables them to utilise their authority and impose their job restrictions for reasons of lack of service delivery on their clients . Due to the scope of "allowed" discretion that street level bureaucrats can exercise, fragmentation of policy is most often experienced during implementation.