Sita chief promises turnaround in 18 months

South African State Information Technology Agency’s (Sita’s) new main man, Mavuso Masimang, known for ‘shaping-up’ things at SANParks, is at it again.

Msimang recently announced his turnaround strategy for the agency, and, he says, it is all about focusing on service delivery and the agency’s revised mandate. “We have lacked focus in the past and have done things that are not included in the Sita Amendment Act. It is time to do the things that we are meant to be doing. We have tended to spread ourselves too thinly. This turnaround will require us to focus,” he adds. The turnaround strategy was approved at a specially convened Sita board meeting on Mar. 19.

One of the main reasons for the creation of Sita, apart from government ICT standardization, was for it to take on the procurement function for all government ICT, but this seems to be going rather badly, according to a recent customer satisfaction survey. Msimang agrees that there is much work to be done to ensure that

Sita does indeed live up to its promises. He says, “Some government departments indicated that they want independence from Sita, because they believe that the agency provides no value-add. At the same time, the customer satisfaction survey also revealed that provinces, especially, wish to see more Sita involvement to alleviate their problems.”

The agency’s procurement division, the IT Acquisition Centre (ITAC), has been one of its main problem areas. It receives a lot of flak from industry and government departments regarding its lack of services, overly high pricing and the centre’s unacceptable delivery turnaround times. Msimang says the customer satisfaction survey confirms that this perception exists, and shows that Sita’s service delivery in the ITAC section is “not up to requirement”.

Sita is in discussions with the National Treasury and consultants to reach the best possible solution to streamlining the ITAC process. A new model is being developed, and will be workshopped with government departments before being implemented. “ITAC needs urgent attention, because we are losing a lot of money here. I believe that we will be implementing the new model by July-August,” he adds.

Msimang says, “A large part of our employees’ work is done in the LAN environment, which is not part of the services that Sita should be supplying to government, according to the Sita Act. We are moving away from providing these non-mandatory services, and focusing on the integration of transversal systems for government to become more interoperable across the Government Common Core Network (GCCN), especially in the provinces.”

The new strategy, says Msimang, will incorporate providing business advisory services, business solutions, delivery services, systems portfolio management and centres of excellence to realize its mission: “to cost-effectively enhance public service delivery through ICT”.

The strategy includes six imperatives to be achieved over a three-year period. These, Msimang notes, are to: radically improve service delivery to clients; prioritize citizen-focused projects and engage clients to build and execute a Sita value proposition; demonstrate practices in people management and leadership; overhaul internal and external communications to improve transparency, visibility and the agency’s image; build an appropriate organization structure and team to achieve strategic objectives; and to maintain financial sustainability.

Money is a big thing when it comes to Sita, as government is the largest spender on ICT in the country, and the rumors that Sita’s 2004/5 budget was only conditionally approved by its board, might cause some problems for the organization.

A consultancy, Burlington XKM Management, has been awarded a six-month contract to implement the turnaround strategy.

Msimang is confident that Sita will turn itself around and he concludes by saying: “I believe that Sita will be delivering in 18 months, and that in 18 months people will love Sita.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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