Improving service delivery by local government : a case for improved supply chain performance management.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa passed in 1996 created three spheres of government - national, provincial and local governments. The local government sphere is at the coal face of service delivery as it is closest to the local communities. The goods and services required by the state to provide services to communities are procured from the private sector. Section 217 of the Constitution stipulates that procurement should be done by a supply chain management system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective. The Constitution made provisions for the creation of supply chain management departments in municipalities whose policies would be guided by the ideals of Section 17 of the Constitution. This study explores the nature and role of local government and provides insight into the concept of service delivery in the South African context. The aim of the study was to provide insight into public sector procurement supply chain management in order to determine how an effective supply chain performance management system could possibly improve service delivery by local government. The nature of this study is descriptive and exploratory. Primary data was collected using in-depth interviews with eight participants at four metropolitan cities. The literature review section of this study discusses three aspects: (1) the nature, roles and responsibilities of local government; (2) supply chain management in the public sector; and (3) performance management. The literature review revealed that local government has a constitutional mandate to deliver quality services to communities using effective and efficient supply chain management processes. Monitoring of and reporting on projects is critical as it informs future planning and budgeting. Feedback is given on progress and where necessary control measures are introduced to ensure effective service delivery to local communities. The findings of this study indicate that all the participating cities follow the prescribed requirements of the Public Finance Management Act, Municipal Finance Management Act and the Municipal Systems Act amongst others. Challenges identified include: weak internal controls, inadequate contracts management, lack of performance monitoring and reporting, lack of proper and integrated planning, and unresponsive supply chain processes. It is suggested that internal controls need to be strengthened in all areas of supply chain management. Personnel should be held accountable for their actions at all times.