Potlaka is the service delivery innovation project of the Chief Directorate: Maintenance and Community Based Public Works within the Dept of Public Transport, Roads and Works in the Gauteng Province. The core function of this programme is to render an infrastructure maintenance service to other government departments, as well as maintaining its own assets. In 2001 the Potlaka programme was initiated, which aims at establishing internal business units within the Chief-Directorate, operating on commercial principles. The Potlaka programme also addresses the streamlining of procurement processes, the improvement of the operation of the departmental stores and the rationalization of contract documentation for contracts with external contractors. The Chief-Directorate is responsible for the maintenance of a very significant portfolio of provincial buildings, which includes 34 hospitals, 120 clinics. Pilot projects were started in 4 regions: Pretoria, Springs, Westhoven and Tulisa Park. The skill sets that were identified to service these areas were plumbers, painters, carpenters, boiler makers, fitters and electricians.
Innovation: The Public Finance Management Act obliges all government departments to be accountable for resources and finances. Potlaka is designed to assist these departments to measure and improve the usage resources and finances. Potlaka was implemented in the following phases: Phase 1 (short term), the confirmation of top management, the carrying out of a feasibility study, the compilation of a business plan and the orientation of staff to fully understand the SDI process. Phase 2 (Medium term), involves the creation of maintenance business units, the development of systems required to operate on commercial principles, the initiation of a series of pilot projects for the new business unit, the monitoring of the performance of the pilot business units, data collection and setting of benchmarks and work standards and the preparation for the roll-out of the SDI process in the four regions. Phase 3 (Long term), the duration is projected at 24 to 36 months. During this time the following will be addressed, the implementation of the SDI process in all regional offices of the Chief Directorate and to assist the small business units in achieving production and cost targets set.
Effectiveness: Staff involved in the pilot project shave received extensive training in business basics, marketing, buying, record keeping, costing, financial and human resource management and business planning. It is predicted that training will assist the staff to improve service delivery, identify problems within the Department and develop solutions. From an overall perspective a positive improvement in productivity has been achieved. There are, however, significant variations from one week to the other and from one maintenance team to the other. This variation stems from differences in people, equipment and work conditions. In spite of training provided there is still a shortage of managerial staff with the ability to drive the process of improvement, and further attention to this aspect is necessary. The importance of regular feedback and evaluation by the responsible managers has been highlighted. From 120 people initially involved in the pilot phase, this has grown to a total of 1766. Springs (243), Pretoria (693), Tulisa Park (418) and Westhoven (412). Bi-weekly meetings are called and successes as well as problems are discussed.
Poverty Impact: To enhance the efficiency of government departments that are chartered to provide service to the community at large and to deliver at basic social programs is Potlaka