Pretoria - Wasteful spending of government resources must end, said acting President Kgalema Motlanthe.
"We have to repeat the message that resource wastage cannot be tolerated," he told senior public servants at the 2013 government leadership summit.
"As we sit here today our public administration is saddled with notable challenges that must be addressed with due haste."
Motlanthe said it would be important for the civil service to allocate resources to ensure efficient spending and value for money.
He cited the diagnostic overview of the National Planning Commission, which points out numerous problems with public sector performance.
"It (the overview) says addressing the uneven performance of the public service will therefore not be achieved through multiple initiatives, but rather through a focused and coordinated approach," Motlanthe said.
"Our key challenge then, in addition to inculcating a sense of mission and a deeper understanding of government in our civil service, is to come to terms with the nuts and bolts of the civil service machinery."
He urged delegates to develop appropriate systems to speed up development of "a capable and sustainable public service".
Others attending the annual summit included Cabinet members Trevor Manuel, Lindiwe Sisulu, Collins Chabane and Thulas Nxesi, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
The conference seeks to give a platform for government leaders from national, provincial and local spheres to find ways to fast-track service delivery.
Earlier, Mokonyane urged senior public servants to use their positions to help government policy being put into practice, including the National Development Plan (NDP).
"You remain the trusted bureaucratic leaders of this government, and if we choose to be nonchalant in our approach to service delivery then the over-arching National Development Plan will suffer the worst kind of stillbirth," she said.
"Consequently, the poor masses will continue to be trapped in a cycle of poverty and unemployment. Their liberation therefore lies in your hands."