Cape Town - Significant reform of supply chain management is necessary, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Tuesday.
"It is the Achilles' heel of government by any measure at the moment," he told a media briefing at parliament.
This used to be highly centralised through the state tender board.
However, in the endeavour to modernise the public service, "I think we've actually allowed for all manner of bad tendencies to take root", he said.
"So, taking hold of that animal by the scruff of its neck, supply chain management, and being able to ensure that we have systems that are uniform and compliant, is going to be a fundamental public sector reform.
"But I think that as we deal with those issues, it's also possible then to focus on how we get better returns on the amount of money we spend."
"You need a framework that would guide quality and quantity and oversight. These kinds of issues are frequently absent. We need to get those in place."
The provinces were broadly agreed on this, but a way in which best practice could be diffused across the public sector was needed, as was doing so without in any way diminishing the constitutional powers of other spheres of government, Manuel said.
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