After having been placed under administration by Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies in July, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has been stabilised.
The co-administrators – SABS COO Jodi Scholtz, SABS technical infrastructure chief director Dr Tshenge Demana and acting CEO Garth Strachan, who was appointed after the resignation of Dr Boni Mehlomakulu on August 2 – have undertaken a diagnostic analysis and developed a turnaround strategy for the bureau.
Addressing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on Wednesday, Strachan explained that the development of implementation plans is being undertaken in conjunction with the executive management team.
The diagnostic assessment focussed on an analysis of the financial position of the SABS, as well as its short- and long-term sustainability, its institutional arrangements and its current business model, he explained.
The assessment also focussed on the identification of all the critical and short-term “burning platforms”, he said, which includes the permit backlog and all customer complaints.
Further, an investigation into the lifting of the moratorium on partial testing has been opened.
The SABS has also re-enforced all of its core mandates, with a special emphasis on standards and conformity assessment.
Additionally, an evaluation of the structural issues and constraints affecting infrastructure and equipment has also been completed.
“We have reviewed the leadership structure and created an interim organisational executive. This included the finalizing of vacant executive positions, divisional reporting lines and the appointment of a human capital executive,” Strachan told the committee.
He further noted that the resolution of outstanding customer certificates is now being supported by the implementation of an optimised information and communications technology system.
The bureau has also expedited the re-issuing of expired permits.
“There have also been a number of unintended consequences when the moratorium on partial testing was implemented and it is now under review and consideration by the leadership team.
“Finally, we have developed a stakeholder engagement and marketing strategy to address weaknesses in internal and external communications,” said Strachan.
The diagnostic process, which is being driven by the co-administrators, will be an ongoing process and will proceed into the New Year.
Commenting on the turnaround strategy, Strachan said this would require a “carefully sequenced approach, with an interlocking series of interventions that had to be linked to the budget and financial position of the SABS”.
The Ministerial intervention and subsequent events, the SABS said, have not impacted on the SABS’s operations, adding that it continues to deliver quality services to clients.
“The SABS accreditation status remains unaffected and the organisation will uphold the commitment to modernise operations, improve operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience,” the bureau said.