The creation of the administratively autonomous SARS with the merger of the former separate components of Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue into one organisation, has created the opportunity to meet the challenges of transforming SARS into an efficient output driven organisation with the correct gender and racial balances. Although SARS has only been administratively autonomous since 1 October 1997, much has been done in the transformation process amongst others:-

It is against this background that the Customs Transformation Project, which is being launched today, should be seen.

The strategic business planning of SARS indicated the need to substantially improve the customs processes and functions. Further studies indicated that it was not possible to resolve the problems and meet the demands of stakeholders by improving the existing system and that a complete transformation was necessary. This decision was taken in late 1996 and planning has been in progress since early 1997. The Prisma Project was a highly participative demand led operational intervention designed to allow local staff, with the benefit of international support, to enhance business activities and modernise work practices.

The Customs Transformation Project is viewed as essential to achieve:-

Teams were established in Controllers offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Each team examined the operation of the import entry systems with a view to:

- improving the quality of the consignments selected for additional checks;
- reducing import entry clearance times for legitimate consignments; and
- improving the quality of practical training for local staff.

In order to achieve the integration of the approach that is considered essential, the scope of this process review and system design will encompass:

- Full clearance control
- Cargo manifest management
- Border gate control
- Border application systems
- Management information system
- Customs financial systems
- Customs intelligence
- External stakeholders interfaces and services
- Postal control systems
- Links to VAT system

The skill base of the Customs service has been seriously eroded as a result of attrition, poorly focused training programmes and insufficient resources to deliver training at the operational level.

The purpose of this component is to build on the work that has already been done over the last year with the assistance of the initial project team to create a more positive environment within which the training can be organised. This component will build up the capacity of Customs functional training commensurate with the demands of right-sizing and the implementation and roll out of new business systems and processes.

The Human Resource division of SARS has embarked upon a human resources policy formulation and business strategy in partnership with recognised trade unions. The Customs Transformation project will be aligned with the SARS corporate human resources strategy which includes:

- Implementation of affirmative action, code of conduct and disciplinary procedures;
- Redesigned performance management systems
- Support for decentralization off all non personal policy related activities;
- Non functional training and development

In terms of affirmative action target representative levels have been set to be reached by 31 October 2002. Blacks, including Africans, Coloureds and Indians, women and disabled people will benefit.

To begin implementing the new performance management system in 1999 the process of job analysis, evaluation grading and revised job descriptions has already started in earnest. Agreed performance measurements will be introduced for decisions concerning conditions, rewards, promotion or termination.

Training and development will be used to support these new policies and to encourage a wide cultural change programme in the organisation.


Contact person:
Christo Henning
Tel:(012) 315-5464
Fax:(012) 325-5306

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