CESA member firms ready to partner with government to reduce irregular expenditure

The Annual Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Infrastructure Indaba was held on the 7th and 8th November 2016 at the Elangeni Maharani Hotel, in Durban.

Under the theme: “Working towards improved delivery of infrastructure and engineering services,” the Indaba created a platform for dialogue  between Consulting Engineers,  Contractors and Clients alike working together to improve the quality of services, the construction industry has to offer. The Indaba also deliberated and addressed #WhatMustRise to be able to employ graduates and students seeking in-service training, a prerequisite to their development as future competent practitioners in the field of engineering.

During her address, CESA President Lynne Pretorius reiterated that CESA would actively partner with stakeholders to improve on the process of infrastructure delivery in South Africa. “Despite a challenging environment, it is imperative that we form partnerships with those role players with whom we share similar values,” stated Pretorius.

She pointed out that in meeting the development challenges of our country, CESA has to partner with Government.  “Our industry presents a particular skill set that is required in the delivery of infrastructure to meet South Africa’s social and developmental goals. Unlocking project and business opportunities requires us to partner with government. This is particularly relevant in implementing an improved procurement environment for the consulting engineering profession,” said Pretorius.

One of the resolutions taken at the Indaba was that CESA will assist client bodies such as KZN Province, who participated in the Indaba in fulfilling their visions and missions in support of improved service delivery.

It is in this spirit of working and partnering with the government that CESA views as “disheartening and concerning”, the report of the Auditor General Kimi Makwetu on National and Provincial departments’ audit outcomes The report revealed that irregular expenditure has increased by nearly 80% to R46,36-Billion in the 2015-2016 financial year. The main reason for the increase in irregular expenditure was the continued non-compliance with supply chain management regulation and lack of consequence management.

Irregular expenditure represents expenditure incurred for the procurement of goods and services without following prescribed processes or adhering to good contract management principles. Tenders are awarded to service providers without the prerequisite competence and delivery track record and insufficient attention to quality and value for money.

One definite potential source of this irregular expenditure is in the commissioning of professional engineering services where insufficient planning is done to provide definitive scopes of work for such services providers to respond accordingly. Inadequate contract management through the infrastructure delivery process is another. The new standard for infrastructure procurement and delivery management launched by National Treasury this year, supported wholehearted by CESA seeks to enforce the adherence to best practices in this process.

To address these sources of leakage, CESA would welcome a strengthened relationship with the public sector to achieve a win-win situation. We would even go as far as encouraging public sector client bodies to require such professional service providers to be members of industry associations such as ours, so that we can become a trusted advisor to them while keeping our industry members honest.

“The unfortunate thing is that not all consulting engineers are registered with a body like CESA. There is no accountability for those who choose to fly under the radar,” cautioned CESA CEO Chris Campbell.