The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) currently has more than 19 000 job posts available at the entity, but only has funding for half of them, MPs heard on Wednesday.
As of August 2017, Sassa had 19 162 approved permanent and contract posts at the agency, but only 9 091 of them were filled, the portfolio committee on social development heard.
This equated to a 52.6% vacancy rate.
"I have to emphasise the 19 000 were never fully funded," said Sassa executive manager Raphaahle Ramokgopa.
A high vacancy rate
"As I present, it would give an indication that we have a high vacancy rate, but you have to assess it with the funded posts we have."
Ramokgopa explained that when Sassa was formed, job descriptions were defined at the time to represent a complete Sassa organogram that handled all administrative work.
However, many of the functions of Sassa have been outsourced to external partners for the last decade, including outgoing unlawful grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).
"This structure was done based on that we would do all of the administrative work," acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu said.
They thus need people to come in to improve expertise in many of these aspects as they move away from CPS, including finance and banking.
Sassa currently only has funding for 220 more posts, all of which have been advertised, approximately 80% of which were still at shortlisting phase.
Bhengu told the committee that they have advertised 10 executive posts currently occupied by acting personnel.
These include the chief operations officer, executive manager: corporate affairs, and four regional executive manager posts.
She did not say, however, if her acting position had been advertised as a permanent post.
Another 'work stream'?
Bhengu also said Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has suggested the need for yet another "work stream" to focus on human resources with a "Paymaster General" appointed.
Dlamini's previous "work streams" set up in 2013 to aid with the migration of the scheme have been slammed for costing approximately R55m with very little outcome.
Sassa has been under pressure to find a solution to insourcing all of the functions required to distribute 11 million social grants following the Constitutional Court order in 2014 that the contract with CPS was unlawful.
They have suggested a "hybrid" model over five years, to allow Sassa to reach full capacity and functionality by 2021.
"The issue of posts need to be carefully looked into if we are going to professionalise Sassa, give them capacity to do a lot of work internally, and bring in all the outsourced work," committee chairperson Rose Capa said.
"The timing of this report is therefore... for Sassa to function, to do everything, who needs to be there?"
Last month, Bhengu told the standing committee on public accounts that insourcing the social grants scheme immediately would be problematic, as it needs 9 000 more staff.
They have thus chosen to work with more service providers, like the South African Post Office (SAPO), in the interim, in order to comply with the Constitutional Court's order to find a new service provider.
Sassa has its next Constitutional Court report to file on September 15. The last update was filed to the court in June, detailing the level of negotiations with SAPO.