Parliament’s watchdog committees and the Auditor-General have questioned the effectiveness of the government’s financial management system, which they say appears not to work as well as stated by the Treasury.
Public Accounts Committee chairman Nicholas Gumbo and his Public Investments Committee (PIC) counterpart Adan Keynan said that based on their interactions with government accounting officers, there are obvious issues with the system and the people who manage it.
They said that with more than Sh5 billion spent on the system so far, there isn’t much to show for it.
Known as the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis), the development of the program was overseen by Ms Anne Waiguru before her appointment as Devolution Cabinet secretary in 2013.
At a meeting with accounting officers from the Executive, Parliament and independent offices, Mr Gumbo and Mr Keynan said the current cases of theft of public funds have undermined confidence in the system.
“In private, there are some accounting officers who say that as much as the system should be an integrated financial management system, it is neither integrated nor can it manage anything,” said Mr Gumbo.
He said some accounting officers, usually the principal officers in the ministries, had confessed they do not know how to use the much-vaunted system.
“When we see all these pilferages, where is the integration, where is the system?” he asked.
Auditor-General Edward Ouko also said the system has not made it easier for him to work. Equating it to a road, he said the Kenya National Audit Office finds it difficult to track money when it gets off the main road.
“Much has been invested in Ifmis, but we are still not getting the results we expect,” said Mr Ouko.
Mr Keynan said the PIC is often frustrated by the poor performance of some accounting officers, who often make up excuses not to meet the committee and appear reluctant to answer queries by the Auditor-General on their finances.
“This includes coming before the committee unprepared, submitting poorly prepared, casual and unconvincing responses, late submission of responses and failure to furnish the Office of the Auditor-General with advance copies of responses,” said Mr Keynan.
Mr Gumbo said the same situation also arises on a regular basis at the PAC, where some accounting officers come up with numerous excuses to avoid meetings with the committee to answer queries raised by the auditor.
“When accounting officers either appear to avoid appearing or come up with excuses, that is a matter that causes concern at the committee,” said Mr Gumbo.
Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge did not respond to the queries about Ifmis.
Ifmis has come under particular focus in the recent past in the unfolding saga at the National Youth Service (NYS).
In the case where Sh791 million was reported to have been lost, Mr Adan Harakhe, a deputy director-general at NYS, claimed his password to the system had been used to commit the money to suspicious procurements.
The meeting of the group, informally known as the Big Nine, was also attended by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi, Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, presidential adviser on legal affairs Abdikadir Mohammed, Solicitor-General Njee Muturi, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi.