S&T leads an audit of sports, recreation, arts & culture facilitiesS&T partner Moagi Ntsime describes a multi-agency audit of facilities for the Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture.
The Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC)
has funded a number of initiatives to build infrastructure and provide
a wide range of services, in order to help address past imbalances. Most
of the funding has been administered through local government and has
included upgrading existing facilities and constructing new sports, recreation,
arts, heritage and library facilities. However, the Department lacked
systematic information regarding infrastructure both inherited from the
past and commissioned post-1994. The Department commissioned an audit
of services in order to fill the information gap and inform future planning.
INITIAL FOCUS OF THE AUDIT
Initially, the Department wanted an audit as well as a planning study
and impact evaluation - conducted within tight timelines and an even tighter
budget. The Department wanted to identify where the greatest need lies,
where more resources needed to be channelled, and to establish if existing
facilities served their intended purpose. However, in close discussion
with the Department, the scope of the project was narrowed, and it was
agreed that an audit was a necessary first step. Even here, the audit
had to cover a wide range of issues, from utilisation to funding to future
Given the very tight timeframe, the need for full provincial coverage
and the complexity of required information, the Department commissioned
four consulting firms (S&T, Mahube Development Services cc, Gandhi
Maseko Architects Lingelihle cc, and Lehlabile Development), each responsible
for a specific region.
S&T was appointed as project manager, with responsibility for co-ordinating
the activities of the other three companies. In other words, S&T was
responsible for the overall management of the audit process and consolidation
of the final composite audit report, as well as ensuring that the companies
delivered as per their scope of work. S&T was also responsible for
auditing facilities in the West Rand and Johannesburg areas.
After lengthy discussions, the focus of the audit was settled:
- To establish the precise spatial location of all facilities,
- To assess the physical condition of facilities,
- To assess the utilisation of facilities generally and by the
- To establish whether the facilities serve their intended purpose,
- To establish where more resources need to be channelled, and
- Analysing the above to develop appropriate recommendations
for the Department.
POSSIBLE CHALLENGES FACING FIELD WORK
After finalising the focus areas for the audit, we were confronted with
one fundamental challenge - the Department did not have an existing database
or list of assets for which it was responsible. There was no register
of facilities under the DSRAC in Gauteng. Registers or lists were said
to be with local municipalities, often not updated or properly stored.
Obviously this created huge problems for the partners - we could not visit
any facility in the province before generating a list of facilities indicating
location and names, lest we audited incorrect assets. It was difficult
to know how long fieldwork would take, how many fieldworkers were needed,
or how much it would cost!
As a result, in carrying out the audit we followed two research methods.
Firstly, we reviewed all existing documentation to try and generate a
comprehensive list of all facilities under the auspices of the Department
in each region within the province. Each research team responsible for
a specific region had to ensure that such a list was generated. This was
done with the assistance of local government offices.
Secondly, upon generating a comprehensive facility list, a semi-structured
questionnaire was developed in conjunction with the Department to survey
facilities throughout the province. We also used a snowball approach whereby
if facilities were identified during our fieldwork but not included in
the initial list, these were added to the list and also audited.
It is important to note a number of hurdles that were encountered by the
research teams. As indicated above, the Department did not have a comprehensive
list available to be used immediately to visit or survey facilities. The
research teams spent a great deal of time - even with the assistance of
the Department - in generating lists.
Secondly, the study was commissioned during the November/December period.
Most participants key to the study within local government structures had
either gone or were about to go on leave, adding time to the project. The
fieldwork phase had to be delayed; where possible it was carried out over
the holiday period, often with limited success. This impacted directly on
the initial timeframe agreed to with the Department for this exercise.
The third obstacle was in terms of lines of accountability. While S&T
had to co-ordinate the work of the other consultants, this was not made
clear in their contracts or scope of work. This had to be resolved before
S&T could proceed with the job - we had to have the requisite authority
to do the job the Department wanted us to do.
Finally, while the timeframe was tight, it took considerable time to (a)
agree on budgets with the client and (b) get signed contracts in place before
commencing with the exercise. Some consultants commenced with the exercise
in the hope that budgets would be negotiated and contracts signed. In the
case of S&T, we decided that unless we had agreed with the client (a)
the scope of work, (b) resources or budgetary implications, (c) methods
of disbursement, and (d) a common understanding of the expected deliverables,
we were not able to go-ahead with the project. While this was ultimately
resolved, it impacted on the timeframe and the implementation plan. S&T
nonetheless deployed appropriate resources and produced high quality data
in good time.
LESSONS FROM THIS EXERCISE
Most development projects present challenges you are expected to deal
with and resolve. But this also includes trying to resolve problems where
the client is unclear on their needs. Therefore, it is important that
you enter a process of identifying and then agreeing on the best options
to serve the needs of the client. Positive results are not always guaranteed:
often the misunderstandings deepen and the project fails. This is a critical
lesson for both the service provider and those who are in need of the
service. It is important to raise your debates above your own deep-seated
paradigm and personalities.
Stemming from this point, having clearly defined the needs, scope of work,
time implications, resource implications and so on, it is important to
ensure that the ToRs are simple, clear and unambiguous; most importantly,
they must reflect both your understanding and interpretation and that
of the client. Only on having signed and agreed to the ToR are you able
to operate within a concrete framework. This protects both client and
service provider, and enhances the prospect of producing good quality
outputs, in turn helping the Department to deepen its impact among the