Home Affairs spends too much on IT

IT system for Home AffairsThe Department of Home Affairs overspent on IT contracts and infrastructure for the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) at a time when the department was on the brink of collapse, it was recently revealed.

A recent Parliamentary portfolio committee heard that, about three years ago, the department overspent by about R687 million, of which more than R100 million went into IT-related services, including IT-related contractual commitments of R31.4 million owed to the State IT Agency, and R97.6 million on IT infrastructure for Hanis.

The department, which is in the midst of a multibillion-rand modernisation programme, told the committee it racked up outstanding debts – that were not catered for in the budget – over a period of several years.

Home Affairs explained its overspending was condoned by National Treasury after discussions, and the parties agreed that revenue the department collected would go towards settling debt, and the state would provide an additional R160 million to settle outstanding invoices.

DG Mkuseli Apleni explains that, at the time the expenditure was incurred, the department was on the brink of collapse and the state introduced a support intervention team, comprising representatives from National Treasury, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) to deal with its issues.

These officials were deployed to the department to stabilise and identify the reasons for the weak management, poor service delivery and widespread corruption, said Apleni. He added the department had, as a result of the issues it faced, dismissed its CFO and head of legal services.

Apleni explained the CFO was fired because internal controls were not implemented, adding legal services was purged because deals were entered into that were invalid. He noted the department would no longer overspend and would comply with all necessary processes before entering contracts.
In October, National Treasury noted the department was on track to meet most of its targets when it comes to issuing identity documents, passports, permits and birth certificates. By mid-year, Home Affairs had issued 763 944 smart identity cards, in line with its annual performance plan.

Home affairs has a R1.1 billion budget for this year to roll out its modernisation project, and has already spent around R1.4 billion. The plan aims to provide an integrated IT platform to decrease the turnaround time for issuing identity documents; birth, death and marriage certificates; passports and visas, among other documents.

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