"The new system allows us to know who has done what every step of the way, whether they have acted efficiently and properly, or whether there has been negligence or corruption in the process," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Monday.

"As part of our larger turnaround of home affairs, this will be a central tool in achieving our goal of ensuring that every rightful applicant receives their ID document within a reasonable period of time, and that the frustrations some have experienced with the process become a thing of the past," she said in a statement.

The system allowed departmental managers to trace and, if necessary, speed up the progress of an ID application document from the moment it was lodged until delivery to the applicant.

Specially developed matrixes allowed managers to establish which official had assumed responsibility for processing at each stage of the application, from acceptance at a home affairs office to transport to headquarters, verification of the applicant's identity, permission for an ID document to be printed, printing, return to the issuing office, and handover to the applicant.

Managers would be able to identify blockages in the system and rectify them speedily, or trace applications which had gone astray and identify the official responsible.

Besides encouraging a culture of individual responsibility for assigned tasks, the track and trace system would allow managers to monitor the individual productivity of home affairs officials in the business unit responsible for issuing ID documents.

Managers would be able to assess how many documents were processed daily by individual officials, and hold them to department-wide standards and norms, thus increasing efficiency across the board and, ultimately, cutting the time taken to issue documents.

The system would also allow home affairs to make a significant impact on the fraudulent issuing of ID documents, Mapisa-Nqakula said.

By clearly identifying each official responsible for every step of the process, it would allow managers to find any departmental employee who substituted photographs and sold IDs illegally, altered details on the central registry system, or created fraudulent ID numbers.

Equally, the new system would also allow a significant tightening of access to birth records and ID number generation, frequently the keys to the corrupt issuing of fraudulent documents.

A similar system allowing managers to follow applications for passports has been operating successfully within the department for some time.

Because the ID track and trace system had to allow departmental managers to follow the flows associated with much larger numbers of applications on a daily basis -- up to 15,000 ID applications -- it would be brought into full operation over a period of several months to ensure that it was able to operate efficiently and flawlessly at all times at the necessary scale, she said.

Sapa