The State Security Agency has requested the Department of Public Service and Administration to assist in the development of an ethics and integrity framework for the agency.
"We are confident that such a framework will lay a solid foundation for a credible and ethical environment and the appointment of ethics officers in the agency," Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo said.
Delivering her budget vote in Parliament on Thursday, the Minister said one of the key priorities for her department is rebuilding of the image of the agency as it has suffered some considerable damage in the recent past.
"Intelligence is a craft that requires a calibre of members who conduct themselves in a professional manner, devoid of political and institutional factionalism and manipulation. Members must abide by the Constitution and the code of ethics for the service," Dlodlo said.
As part of the agency's efforts to strengthen governance as well as the integrity of its administrative systems, it will undertake benchmarking visits to select counterparts in the world.
"The lessons learnt will be translated into enhancing our systems. Further to this, we are beefing up our compliance instruments," the Minister said.
The agency will also focus on the training and development of staff.
"The re-visioning of the South African National Academy on Intelligence will include striking a balance between academic excellence with the provision of appropriate technical skills; bringing in more expertise; injecting capital infrastructure; reviewing curricula; and developing world class research and development capacity.
"This will bring us much closer to the goal of professionalising the agency and most importantly the preparation of the workplace for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the future of jobs," said the Minister.
The agency is in the process of bringing in high quality members with proven expertise and experience in high-end research and development. The appointment of the head of Research and Development will be finalised by 1 September 2019.
"In this context, I am also pleased to announce that we have already started a process to assess the skills profile of the agency. This skills audit, which we expect to complete within four months, will help to identifying the gaps and challenges associated with our capacity to fulfil our mandate as an agency now and into the future," the Minister said.
The agency will, by the end of the month, appoint a person with the requisite skills to clear the backlog of disciplinary cases.
Meanwhile, the agency has started doing an assessment of risks that will make government fail to attain its objectives across the administration.
This will help the State get to determine and address the root causes, systematic challenges, legislative and policy contradiction and gaps.
"The high rate of unemployment is a chilling reality, especially among young people and those not of pensionable age, poses a massive security risk to our country coupled with a stagnant economy whose structure is not fully inclusive," the Minister said.
The agency has identified as high priority risk, the socio economic condition and the high unemployment of people and youth in particular, the cyber space security, regional influence, countering international terrorism, domestic political stability and economic prosperity as its uppermost priorities.
"If we fail, we must be prepared for increased levels of community frustration, continued non-payment for services rendered and the escalation of conflict between government and citizens.
"We will proceed to identify risks and opportunities at the earliest possible stage, shaping developments and preventing threats from emerging in the near future," she said.
In collaboration with the National Treasury, South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the agency will pay particular attention to other complex threats to the economic wellbeing of the country.
These would include the entire spectrum of the illicit economy; base erosion, the manipulation of the currency; the protection of strategic capabilities in various sectors of the economy; risks arising from climate change; energy security; food security; and sovereignty of the country on water resources.
The Minister said the agency intends to address the issue of vetting, especially of executives and of top management, including staff in supply chain across the administration.
"In the next three months we will introduce uniform vetting standards across the sector to avoid inconsistency and duplication. The Deputy Minister will announce further concrete steps that we will be undertaking," the Minister said.
The agency will also collaborate with the Public Service Commission to begin the implementation of lifestyle audits within this financial year.
The Minister emphasised the importance of continuing to improve the implementation of a coordinated, capacitated and resourced state-led national response as well as the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework (NCPF) in effort to fight cybercrime and improve the country's global rating on cyber security.
In the next eight months, the agency will be reviewing and updating some of its policy and legislative instruments to strengthen the capacity to carry out its mandate.
Amongst others is the review of the White Paper on Intelligence and the Minimum Information Security Standards.
"For us to be equal to the task so as to address the identified priority risks, we must build formidable institutions in the intelligence community that are professional and offer a human service that is credible and trustworthy," said the Minister.