Auditor General decries zero action on reports

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Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has decried non-implementation of her reports, saying the situation has denied taxpayers the right to the resolution of flagged irregularities in the use of public funds.

She said the reports must be implemented to enhance the quality of audit services for improved management of public resources.

Gathungu said it was regrettable that more than 40 performance audits touching on various sectors have not been acted on.

“Parliament has not deliberated on them. Some of the reports have provided recommendations which, if implemented, would have mitigated against some of the current issues we are experiencing as a country,” the auditor said.

Gathungu added that implementation of recommendations is critical to ensuring public funds and public resources impact positively on the lives and livelihoods of the people.

“Implementation of audit recommendations is the only way to ensure accountability, transparency and beneficial change in the public finance management system,” she said.

She further said there is lack of an effective mechanism for follow up on implementation of the recommendations.

“As such, most audit queries recur in subsequent audit reports due to lack of adequate action.”

Gathungu said the lack of requisite sanctions has led to perennial failure by some accounting officers to adequately account for the public resources entrusted in their care.

“It has also led to fiscal indiscipline, including misallocations, wastage of resources, and lack of value for money in implementation of projects, theft and corruption,” she said.

Gathungu said the non-implementation has affected development programmes in the various entities.

“This in turn threatens growth and development of our economy sustainability of service delivery and the wellbeing of the citizens.”

She spoke during the launch of the Office of the Auditor General’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan themed as “Making a Difference in the Lives and Livelihoods of the Kenyan People”.

“This will help us tackle public finance, governance and accountability issues in the complex environment. It calls for partnerships now more than ever,” Deputy Auditor-General Fred Odhiambo said.

The launch was graced by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Eliud Wabukala who commended the Office of the Auditor General for reports that have helped the anti-graft agency.

“We handled 501 cases of graft in 2021, a number of which stemmed from audit reports. We assure the OAG of our support and continued collaboration,” he said.

Gathungu further decried the lack of sufficient support to the office’s operations, saying they are unable to conduct in-year audits.

“We have a budget need of Sh8 billion but we only received Sh5.9 billion so we cannot conduct audits in the middle of a financial year,” she said.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, in response to the concerns, said Parliament will continue to support OAG particularly by budgetary support.

“If our friends from the Treasury were here, I would have told you where the problem stems from,” the speaker said, laying the blame on the National Treasury.

On implementation, Muturi said the timeliness of audit reports from OAG was critical and expeditious review of the reports by Parliament was critical.

“The implication is timely justice in the correction of a wrong preventing the perpetuation of the wrong outright,” he said.

Gathungu said the office has taken proactive measures to develop a framework for tracking, follow-up and reporting on implementation of audit recommendations.

“Additionally, we have submitted recommendations to Parliament to review the Public Finance Management Act, 2012, to make implementation of audit recommendations mandatory for all public entities and introduce and enforce sanctions to those who fail to comply,” she said.

Among the 40 audit reports is one issued in April 2018 that reviewed provision of Mental Healthcare Services in Kenya.

The report said that mental health services were inadequately provided in both referral and county hospitals.

“We are pleased to note that the government has implemented some of the recommendations, including recently converting Mathari Referral Hospital to a semi-autonomous government agency.”

Also delayed is the report on monitoring of mining operations by the State Department of Mining issued in April, 2019.

It highlighted the lack of monitoring of mining operations by the department, noncompliance with environmental laws on rehabilitation by mining companies, and inability to measure value of minerals.

The Auditor General’s office also issued a report in October 2020 on fire safety preparedness in secondary schools under the Ministry of Education.

The report said that most schools were ill prepared to deal with fire outbreaks.

A report on management of drought in Kenya by the National Drought Management Authority issued in December 2020 is also gathering dust.

Another on the installation and maintenance of road furniture by Kenha, Kerra and Kura issued in December 2020 is also yet to be acted upon.

Also cited was a report on preparedness of the State Department for Petroleum to monitor costs in the petroleum sector issued in October 2021.

“The office is prepared to engage with Parliament through the committees to chart the way forward to ensure that these critical reports are addressed appropriately,” Gathungu said.

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