The recent Auditor General of South Africa’s (AGSA) report on the performance of local government has revealed that municipalities are in need of strong governance and better reporting, with only 7,3% of municipalities achieving a clean audit. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has recently published a national equivalent of the international standard ISO 18091: Quality management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001 and believes that the implementation can assist to improve the performance of local government in delivering high quality public products and services underpinned by effective governance, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
“Globally local governments face challenging issues regarding delivery of quality products and services to local communities. In tandem with this they must ensure full compliance with the various laws and regulations when conducting their business. Developed in consultation with national standards bodies from various countries, the ISO 18091 standard sets out the globally recognised principles of quality management in local government. The adoption of ISO 18091 as SANS/ISO 18091 provides the opportunity for South African local authorities to embed quality management into their service delivery efforts thus giving local citizens and ratepayers confidence in their management and planning processes. We believe that it is imperative that local government become familiar with the standard to ensure that their performance and service delivery execution is aligned to international best practice,” says Dr Sadhvir Bissoon, Standards Executive at the SABS.
The SANS/ISO 18091 is the first standard that is directed at the public sector and provides detailed annexures to provide checklists and processes that aids the implementation. The national standard, which contains elements of ISO 9001: quality management systems, is suitable for all local authorities and helps them to evaluate and diagnose their operating models, processes and delivery of services.
“The SABS understands that the maturity of local municipalities, in terms of systems and processes, may not be at the required level and SANS/ISO 18091 is an indispensable stepping stone to becoming more effective. We are also aware that the 91-page document, which contains a wealth of technical information, needs to be workshopped amongst management and the SABS will be offering a series of workshops, training and advisory services that will be directed at this level of government. We also believe that the adoption of the standard will help strengthen many of the regulations that National Treasury has put in place for entities governed by the PFMA and the MMFA,” explains Bissoon.