Wednesday, March 09, 2016

What a ride

You are either corrupt or you are too stupid to know what's going on in your own firm.—Suits, season 4, episode 1
The Integrated Financial Management Information System, IFMIS, is an automated system that is used for public financial management that interlinks planning, budgeting, expenditure management and control, accounting, audit and reporting. According to the IFMIS website, IFMIS has inbuilt controls and audit trails that clearly indicate transactions from the point of initiation to the end. The system has an approval hierarchy which ensures segregation of duty and internal checks.

That is the rosy picture. The reality is something else completely. The National Youth Service, NYS, which in the 2015/2016 financial year was allocated 25 billion shillings, has been in the spotlight because of a loss that is estimated at between 791 million shillings and 1.6 billion shillings. These sums are claimed to have been embezzled despite the "segregation of duty and internal checks" of the IFMIS. Despite "approval hierarchy" and despite the system's "inbuilt controls and audit trails that clearly indicate transactions from the point of initiation to the end," IFMIS has become a byword for, at best, waste and, at worst, well-entrenched graft.

What IFMIS and NYS have in common is the former Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning, who resigned from office and has indicated a desire to stand in the elections in 2017 for the governor's office of Nairobi City County. She was responsible for overseeing the roll-out of the IFMIS when she consulted at the National Treasury after the 2007 general elections, and the NYS was a state agency under her docket when she was appointed to head the Devolution and Planning ministry.

We may never find out when fraud was discovered in regard to the NYS. She claims that she was informed that a password was being misused and that certain financial commitments in the IFMIS had been made using the password. She laid the blame squarely at the feet of her accounting officer, the Principal Secretary, and "junior" officers in her ministry. The ensuing investigations rounded up contractors paid by the NYS and it has been downhill from there.

At every step she has denied knowledge or involvement and it begs the accusation that Jack Soloff makes against Jessica Pearson, that she is either corrupt or stupid. Those who remember her first major appearance on prime time TV, she responded to a criticism about her strict style by saying, "I cannot stand mediocrity. You have to do your things properly...I am fussy about small things...as well as the big things." So either she is daft or corrupt, both having serious implications. Either way, Kenyans have to wonder how it is that a gauche young man on the make and a former hairdresser could orchestrate an intricate conspiracy to scam between 791 million and 1.6 billion shillings out of the government. It pains me to say that the exact sum of the swindle remains unknown. I wonder how long before we really start to question all the promises that have been made abut corruption.

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