Department of Public Works – Built Environment (BEP) Policy – call for comment by SAICE Members

Dear SAICE Member,

The Minister of Public Works has invited the public to comment on the Draft Built Environment (BEP) Policy.

The invitation by the Department of Public Works calls for comments by 27 June 2014.

SAICE members wishing to submit comments in connection on the Draft Built Environment (BEP) Policy are requested to do so via this SAICE Blog before 25 June 2014, which will allow SAICE two days to collate these responses and submit to Department of Public Works before their deadline of 27 June 2014. Comments received after this date will not be included in the SAICE collated response.
We have attached a copy of the “POLICY DOCUMENT ON THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS OF THE STATUTORY REGULATORY FRAMEWORK OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT PROFESSIONS” for you to view. Click here
Regards,

Steven Kaplan

Chief Operating Officer

South African Institution of Civil Engineering

Cell:    +27 (0) 83 441 4982

Tel:     +27 (0) 11 805 5947

Fax:    +27 (0) 11 805 5971

11 Responses to “Department of Public Works – Built Environment (BEP) Policy – call for comment by SAICE Members”

  1. bill kerr

    Option3 (nationalising the professions) sounds the death knell for engineers and architects working in SA.
    The DPW is unable to control corruption within its ranks or spend its national budget let alone administer the rights of professionals to practice their vocation. Stick with Option2.

    Reply
  2. Thabani Manana

    My comment is that the Department of Public Works has a very good programme to educate engineering students in verious tertiory institutions, once you’ ve completed your studies you then look for a job else where, and I see that as a lose to the Department because the knowledge which we’ve obtained from U niversities and Technikons and the experience should be assosting in the Departmental projects.I as one was funded by Department of Public Works but II’m working for another department, it feels so bad because other Departments do have programmes for their officials whom they have been funding. I wish to rgiveback what the Department has given me, but because there are no such programmes in place, and we arevshining

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  3. Thabani Manana

    My comment is that the Department of Public Works has a very good programme to educate engineering students in verious tertiory institutions, once you’ ve completed your studies you then look for a job else where, and I see that as a lose to the Department because the knowledge which we’ve obtained from U niversities and Technikons and the experience should be assosting in the Departmental projects.I as one was funded by Department of Public Works but II’m working for another department, it feels so bad because other Departments do have programmes for their officials whom they have been funding. I wish to rgiveback what the Department has given me, but because there are no such programmes in place, and we are shining in other Departments at the expence of your Department and it is so sad. Thabani Manana qualified as a Civil Engineering Technician. Thanks!

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  4. Singazi Ndlovu

    I do not agree with Option 3. I think that putting the Professionals under the department of public works will further cause paralysis due to inherent bureaucratic procedures within government ministries. I think that the problems will continue and will get even worse due to nepotism, political patronage that takes place within government institution in a young democracy like ours. Option 1 is the best.

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  5. G.P.Small

    The introduction of an overseeing body to regulate the different branches in the built environment is a waste of money and unnecessary. The attitude and commitment of members of professional bodies is shaped and ingrained at grass roots level. Representation of race in professional bodies according to the population race distribution is totally illogical and a recipe for disaster. Each profession must regulate itself and must be free of political interference.

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  6. Koos Davel

    Hallo Steven, regarding the Draft bill. The following should be considered:
    – There is a lot of Pr Eng’s working in private practice, that choose that employment position. they do not want to be regulated or controlled by government, but by their own professional bodies.
    – I do no work, in fact I refuse to do any work for a Government or semi-government body. I do not see the larger or centralised control working for me.
    – I do some work in Africa and the rest of the world, guided by professional and best practise conduct. this is why I have work. My focus is not and will never be to be part or do any social engineering as proposed
    – You are judged by the company you keep. lumping the BIng, Pr Eng into the same pot than quantity surveyors, bean counters, politicians, and social engineer, would surely tarnish the image of the profession. An arm or further distance should ne maintained.
    – this proposed controls could impact on international agreements?

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  7. PRStott

    The recent news that South Africa is now bottom on the international list of Maths and Science education standards should raise concern. The proposed document does not appear to speak to this and its related problems for the built environment professions in any meaningful way.

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  8. G.P.Small

    ECSA does not require an external controlling body. Professional engineers can only be controlled by professional engineers. Government policy cannot be allowed impede on or professional ethics.

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  9. J Kotze

    Steven, As per your invitation, please find the consolidated comments from a number of BEP’s in the industry on the Draft Built Environment (BEP) Policy – a “POLICY DOCUMENT ON THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS OF THE STATUTORY REGULATORY FRAMEWORK OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT PROFESSIONS”

    – A primary concern is that the Department of Public Works is one of the entities which do not understand or apply the PFMA and the requirements of the BE profession at all. They generally refuse to negotiate on any terms and apply Contractor related terms to all their appointments. This view is shared by perhaps most other competent BEP’s. If they were to be the overarching authority “regulating” the BE professionals (noted as the preferred option in this draft policy), the rules and regulations imposed may not be in BEP’s best interest.
    – The idea of having one governing Council or Body for the entire BE Profession may in some regards be beneficial, but it should be taken into consideration that all different professions under the ambit of the BEP, have different risks and aspects which are crucial. These risks and / or issues may not necessarily apply to all the professions under the BEP definition. A fundamental issue is that BEP’s do not only serve the public sector. Why should a government department then take over the CBE? The Department of Health does not run the HPC, neither the Department of Justice the Law Societies or Bar Councils. In addition, the piece of Built Environment that the DPW is directly involved in is only a very small part of the profession’s activities, even in the public sector alone.
    – Before focusing on one governing Council for Built Environment Professionals, and before deciding whether Public Works should take over the role of the mentioned CBE, due consideration should be given to the procurement legislation (PFMA, MFMA, Treasury Guidelines, Supply Chain Management etc) which do not clearly make provision or contain specific regulations for appointment of Built Environment Professionals.
    – The Councils for each separate Built Environment Profession should remain intact. It is crucial to have a Council or Body that members of such a specific Profession can approach and which can attempt to resolve matters of importance with the Government on behalf of their members.
    – It is troublesome that the policy proposes that all Built Environment Councils should comply with the PFMA. This will jeopardise the independence of our industry and being a private sector fraternity and will result in us being subject to the Supply Chain Policy Regulations, which even the Government entities do not seem to comprehend or apply correctly.
    – The Built Environment Professionals do indeed require an independent Body to perform the regulatory role. The statement in the policy that such Councils should seek a mandate from the Minister of Public Works instead of seeking a mandate from the professionals, negates the reason for the existence of such Councils. If one looks at the matters for which “In the main the BEPCs will be responsible for” (pages 80 and 81 of the Gazette), there would be no problem if the BEPC’s are left to fulfil these functions without interference. It is therefore difficult to understand what would change if the CBE were to be taken over by the DPW, unless it is their intention to force changes to the norms and standards that the BEPC’s currently use in carrying out their responsibilities. Presumably they could do that anyway through amendments to the various Acts governing the various Professions.
    – The policy document proposes three options:
    (i) Option 1 is not acceptable by any of the Parties and will therefore not comment on same.
    (ii) Option 2 however is in our view the correct approach. The situation will remain as is with the Built Environment Profession Councils (BEPC) reporting to the Council for Built Environment (CBE). The Minister of Public Works will continue to regulate the CBE and BEPC’s. According to the policy the issue with this option is that legislative amendments are required to define the roles and responsibilities of the CBE and BEPC’s. This may be exactly what is required in our Profession. We will remain independent and have a regulatory body that is specific to our Profession. The rules and responsibilities and relationship with the CBE will also be clear.
    (iii) The third option, and the preferred one it seems, is that the Minister of Public Works directly regulate the Built Environment Professions and in all regards take over the role of the CBE. As stated above the question of our independence and regulations that may be imposed on our Profession are just some of the serious issues that should be considered in this option. Another item of concern is one of the functions of the CBE/DPW: f) Procedural matters related to professionals gaining international recognition. It is doubtful whether DPW will play a role in helping a South African professional obtain international recognition, is this perhaps an attempt to create a framework that will enable DPW to force the BEPCs to recognise professional registration from dodgy institutions, or the opposite, as is seemingly the case with the HPC? The NDPW has neither the experience, nor the ability to be able to regulate the BEPC’s.
    – In conclusion, at face value, what is being proposed will not change anything materially. The BEPCs should be able to continue with business as usual.

    Reply
  10. Peter Fischer

    Comment
    on
    Policy Document on the Proposed Amendments of the Statutory Regulatory Framework of the Built Environment (BEP) Professions

    The following borrows heavily from Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s recent (20 June 2014) comments on the proposed imposition of a ministry on the judiciary:

    “” South Africa’s professions should not have politicians in the form of the Minister of Public Works “hovering” over it.
    Because for as long as you have the executive, in the form of the Minister of Public Works playing a political oversight role over the professions, you have a problem. Each Council needs to have its own Board account, its own budget and it needs full say over the appointment of support staff that are required to strengthen its capacity to serve the public.
    Human beings, being what they are, can be tricky. It cannot be predicted how the control of functions and the control of the budgets could be used with a view to influencing the Engineering Council to do things, or some within the Council to do things, they ought not to be doing.
    I have never understood, and I doubt if I will ever understand, the reasons for establishing the CBE, and there appear to be even fewer reasons to place “control” of the professions under the Department of Public Works, especially when it comes to making rules about something in a field they do not operate in, and possibly have little real knowledge about, and have limited capacity to be effective. “”

    In Part 3 of the Policy Document of the Proposed Amendments of the Statutory Regulatory Framework of the Built Environment (BEP) Professions it is stated
    “.. The BEPCs must safeguard the highest standards of quality in the built environment. It is thus critical that professionals provide quality and reliable services with public health, safety and welfare as their primary consideration. This is achieved through, among others:
    a) Establishing standards for registration and performance
    b) Assessing competency of BEPs;
    c) Authorizing the performance of designated activities;
    d) Publishing and enforcing uniform code of practice; and
    e) Robust dispute resolution mechanisms.”

    Professional registration must not be confused with performance or competence. It is a common fatal error to believe that the synthetic, fast tracking of exposure to an array of experiences to achieve earliest professional registration will solve the country’s skills shortages.

    The competence of experienced engineers is critical to meeting the imperatives of service delivery, providing reliable and cost effective infrastructure, and sustainable (long term) growth of the economy. Registration for the sake of making engineers responsible and / or liable serves no realistic purpose.

    It is well known that training of professionals of past generations occurred in the engineering departments of large public entities such as Water Affairs, Transnet, Eskom, Water Boards and the Municipalities. However, these training grounds have been decimated and many have become tenuously functional.

    It is also well known that training of professionals has defaulted primarily to private consulting engineering practices. However, under the watch of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Finance, statutory fee scales for consulting engineering services have been replaced with “guideline” fee scales. Tendering for providing professional services is essentially aimed at procuring professional services at the lowest cost by discounting from the “guideline” fee scales, which has resulted in all of the following:

    Little or no mentorship – ie minimal real professional development
    Little or no innovation
    “Cut and paste” of designs and specifications
    No recognition of cost effectiveness
    False economy due to no regard for Life Cycle Costing
    Reduced checking of designs and work on construction sites, leading to increased risk
    Increased hours of work (typically 50 to 60 hours or more per week for senior engineers)
    Retired persons being expected to carry on working well into their 70s
    Lower quality of service to clients
    An industry that is not attractive to the best and brightest minds

    Other than competitiveness and equity, tendering as it is practised by most Supply Chain Management (SCM) departments does not comply with the five basic principles of procuring goods and services as set out in the Constitution (transparency, equity, fairness, competitiveness, cost effectiveness).

    Eventually personal remuneration and company overheads will suffer to the point where consulting engineering professionals work out of the boots of their cars just to make a living. Shopping mall collapses, water shortages, contaminated rivers etc are all signs of coming disasters. This surely cannot be what the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Works wants, but the evidence of declining professional standards due to lowest-cost tendering are evident everywhere.

    Interfering with the independence of the Councils is tantamount to “fiddling while Rome burns” – there already aren’t enough competent, experienced professionals to do the work that needs to be done, and there is little or no chance that the Ministry of Public Works will add any value to the professions nor to the advancement of living standards in South Africa if it is given a regulatory role over the professions.

    Peter Fischer
    24 June 2014

    Reply
  11. Robert G K Blyth Pr Eng C Eng

    The comments by Peter Fischer above reflect in large measure my views as previously expressed to the SAICE in my paper “Engineering Posts difficult to fill – A Response”’ dated February 2014. My comments on the proposals by DPW can this be drawn from that paper. My short comments below cannot do justice to the full problem that has many aspects.

    Regarding the labour intensive approach we do not have a culture of this in this country say compared with India and other Asian countries. We also have the problem that there is no continuity and whenever a job is completed in an area the skills that have been learned a lie fallow. We need a completely different model where the skills of the contracting firms are used to assist in the development of more sustainable long-term skills and projects which will uplift particularly the rural communities. Maintenance skills are one field that is sadly neglected.

    This needs to be coupled with the reintroduction of full apprenticeship programmes that impart long term usable skills. Digging trenches might give DPW and the politicians numbers to crow about but they mean very little when the primary beneficiaries are the local publicans (I quote a highly experienced contractor with long experience in rural projects.)

    The labour intensive programme is inevitably more expensive and the real costs of such programmes need to be disclosed to the general public so that a clear understanding of what the taxes are actually achieving can be seen.

    As a question would steel-fixing. formwork erection, concrete placing, bricklaying be regarded as labour intensive? If not why not?

    I thus submit that the labour intensive approach not be used in the long term but only as a short to intermediate term approach while the skills development programmes are enhanced which are the essential requirement for the long-term development of the country. To rely on labour intensive (labour-enhanced?) is short sighted and counter-productive.

    Reply

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