Municipalities fail ICT audit

July 5, 2011 3:19 pm 0 comments

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Terence Nombembe Municipalities fail ICT auditIT interventions are needed in the majority of municipalities as they struggle to improve service delivery , says the Auditor General of SA (AGSA).

In the 2009/10 local government audit report, Auditor General, Terence Nombembe, revealed that municipalities were struggling to manage and integrate their IT systems.

According to the audit, municipalities lacked effective IT governance processes to ensure that IT functions were operational and capacitated.

Of the municipalities audited, 96% had deficiencies in their governance processes. 100% of municipalities in the Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape and North West needed to implement interventions in their IT governance processes, the report found

Business continuity and disaster recovery plans and facilities, which would ensure that availability and recovery of financial information in instances of data losses, also needed to be addressed.

A total of 95% of municipalities needed to address deficiencies in their IT service and continuity planning. 100% of municipalities in the Northern Cape and North West needed to address their IT service continuity processes.

The report also called on municipalities to reduce their dependency on service providers who implement and manage system security functions.

Over 61% of municipalities showed deficiencies in their program change management.

Central co-ordination, guidance and specialist support to local government to enable cost-effective and efficient management of IT was also noted as a key concern.

Reducing costs

The report revealed that at the 162 municipalities and municipal entities audited countrywide there were 43 different systems in use. These ranged from off-the-shelf packages (computer packages bought) to systems developed in-house and customised systems (computer packages bought and modified).

“The use of so many different accounting and financial systems impacts on the cost to local government of running and maintaining them… In addition, a number of systems are not integrated with the financial accounting systems used by municipalities,” the AGSA revealed.

The report also revealed that skills shortages continued to plague municipalities. At the time of the audit, there was a 36% IT vacancy rate at audited municipalities.

“One of the challenges for smaller municipalities is limited IT skilled staff and budgets. Whereas assistance is provided in respect of the three system used  nationally by national and provincial departments, neither the National Treasury and SITA provides assistance to municipalities and municipal entities to ensure that computer systems are adequately controlled and that IT is cost-effectively managed.”

Urgent interventions

According to the report, in view of the large number of computer systems in use, the National Treasury should provide prescripts regarding financial systems to minimise duplicate systems and maintenance costs.

“National Treasury should also explore the possibility of  providing local government with the possibility of extending the integrated financial management system (IFMS) currently under development, or  developing a transversal IT system specifically for local government,” the report stated.

Nombembe also reported that the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) should monitor and influence improvements to address system deficiencies and duplication at municipalities in collaboration with the National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

The report also recommended that the DPSA, in consultation with the GITO council, should extend the IT governance framework developed for national and provincial departments to incorporate local government.

Provincial authorities were also called on to establish a governance process that will promote knowledge sharing and shared IT technical support in each province.

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