n Journal of Public Administration - An assessment of the role of corporate services managers at South African missions abroad with specific reference to the asset management function

Volume 54 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


The issue of asset management is not confined to the private sector but includes the public sector as well. The promulgation of the Public Finance Management Act (1999) gave effect to the professionalisation of the asset management function in the public service. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has its cost centres around the globe as missions, fully staffed with diplomats and locally recruited personnel to pursue South Africa's foreign policy. These missions are furnished with office furniture, and the diplomats are provided accommodation at state cost with state-funded domestic furniture. Corporate Services Managers or Heads of Administration in missions are currently entrusted and contracted to ensure accurate and efficient asset management at missions. This study sought to assess the role of Corporate Services Managers at missions, with specific reference to the asset management function. Qualitative research methodology was employed to achieve the set objectives of the study. Data was collected through one-on-one, online and telephonic interviews with the participating Corporate Services Managers at missions, analysed, and presented in themes. A key finding of the study was that Corporate Services Managers and other key personnel expected to execute the asset management function in missions lack adequate training. Reinforcing this finding, it was found that the asset management training offered by the Directorate of Administration and Management to aspiring Corporate Services Managers prior to being posted abroad was found to be out of sync with the demands of asset management and must be reviewed. It is therefore recommended that DIRCO consider reviewing its asset management training, duration, and the criteria it utilises to in-source trainers. DIRCO should further consider contracting all transferred officials or diplomats through individual performance agreements to take responsibility to safeguard the allocated assets in the office and at residences, in line with section 45 of the Public Finance Management Act (1999). Furthermore, a service delivery charter should be drafted and approved to guide the performance of the unit in supporting missions.

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