Q&A With Andrew Musangi, Chairman Of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Board

July 27, 2020

Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Board Chairman Andrew Musangi faced questions from members of the public via Nation.

In almost all the major corruption cases that have been reported, an accusing finger has always been directed at the procurement departments. This is despite the fact that there is the Kenya Institute of Supplies Management (KISM), which should be disciplining its errant members. As PPRA Board chairman, what is your view on this? Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi

Undoubtedly procurement is the primary contact point between public resources and the various organisations supplying goods or services to public entities.

All over the world, the government is the single largest buyer in an economy. In this regard, public procurement is the tool for implementing the government’s budget via which resources expended.

It is therefore not surprising that procurement is the most sensitive and vulnerable point when it comes to corrupt practices. KISM is an independent body that also operates within the legal framework of our Constitution and together with other State agencies, we all have the common mandate of realisation of functional, efficient and effective procurement management regimes that guarantees value for money and efficient service delivery to the public.

Beyond prevention, KISM is empowered to discipline errant members, the PPA Review Board can cancel an illegal procurement if detected by the appellate process, but the real deterrence lies in criminal sanctions.

Corruption must have earth-shattering consequences and as we have witnessed recently, this is the only way to convey a serious message in the fight against corruption. We must not only punish the corrupt severely but we must also disgorge the financial benefits from the perpetrators through hefty fines and aggressive asset recovery avenues.

A number of tenders at the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) have come under serious scrutiny and there are reports that the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) was also investigating some of them. What have been some of your findings? In what ways are you collaborating with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to ensure that those who abuse their positions at Kebs to enrich themselves and the beneficiary companies are severely punished? Ali Khamis, Mombasa

The authority has been conducting investigations on the tender for the Provision of Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) to Standards for Motor Vehicles, Equipment and Spare Parts at the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs). However, the investigations have been temporarily halted since a matter touching on the tender was filed before the High Court and evidentiary material is being reviewed by the court. It is now subjudice and the PPRA will comment on the matter at the appropriate time.

With regard to our collaboration with EACC, the PPRA has over the years been working very closely with the EACC and other agencies in the multi-agency task force investigating corruption in public procurement. In all these cases, we render expertise in evaluating procurement breaches and we work collaboratively to build solid cases for further action in accordance with the law.

PPRA is the body mandated to oversee the disposal of government and related agencies’ assets. What is your position regarding the disposal of hundreds of vehicles and machinery rotting in various county yards across the country? Bernard Kariuki Mbugua

Disposal of public assets should be done expeditiously to maximise the residual value of public assets and guard against loss of value due to depreciation and deterioration of the assets. The Act and attendant regulations have outlined clear procedures on disposal of assets, including ensuring timely disposal of the asset. The procurement law has vested in the accounting officer the responsibility of ensuring that the procuring entity fulfills its asset disposal obligations.

The procurement law has also provided guidance on asset disposal planning and how to unlock a disposal in the event the public entity fails to secure responsive bids in order to ensure timely disposal of assets. It is the responsibility of the respective accounting officers to execute these disposals and they bear responsibility for their failure to act in accordance with the law.

We have sensitised public officers on the need to exercise this responsibility and I can only attribute the failures to laxity. The legal sanctions breaches are as serious as those related to direct corruption because in both events public resources are going to waste.

The low number of youths turning up to take the 30 per cent government procurement tenders reserved for them indicates something is wrong on how this programme is operated that needs urgent attention. What strategy have you put in place to ensure government tenders benefit the youth? Raphael Obonyo, Nairobi

Whereas generally the uptake of the 30 per cent reserved tenders under the AGPO programme has been lower than expected, major strides that have been made. The low uptake is attributable to a number of factors emanating both from the youth and the implementers (procuring entities).

As an Authority, we continuously study AGPO to identify factors affecting the participation of the youth, women and people with disabilities in public procurement opportunities. This informs the necessary interventions and strategies to ensure that the AGPO programme attains its primary objective.

It is worth noting that during the 2018/2019 FY, youth owned enterprises were awarded a total of 12,522 contracts (39.6 per cent) of the aggregate 31,651 contracts awarded to AGPO target groups (Economic Survey, 2020).

In terms of value, the contracts awarded to the youth during the 2018/2019 FY were valued at Sh12.9 billion, equivalent to 42.9 per cent of the aggregate value of Sh30 billion awarded to AGPO target groups (Economic Survey, 2020).

The widespread violation of tender rules in county and national governments has been one of the major missing links in the ongoing purge on corruption. What are you doing to stem cases of procurement malpractices and widespread violation of tender laws?  Raphael Obonyo, Nairobi

Through a participatory approach, we have influenced and ensured that the Act and regulations outline procedures that are concise with minimal discretion for accounting officers. Further, the procurement law has set out clear separation of roles and responsibilities within the internal operations of a procuring entity with detailed accountability requirements.

Further, the Authority has put in place measures to enhance and ensure regular compliance monitoring with targeted procurement assessments, reviews, audits and investigations coupled with extending technical support and advice to procuring entities.

Similarly, in addition to partnering with other government enforcement agencies, we have devised measures and interventions to partner with and involve non-state actors, communities benefiting from specific procurement projects and the general public to monitor and report any suspected procurement irregularities.

The people of Kimilili reported a case to your office and other departments concerning the rot at the Kimilili constituency office on procurement, among others. What action you have taken against the concerned individuals? Edward B. Wekesa, Kimilili

The review of the matter is ongoing alongside several other regular procurement audits. Commenting on a single matter publicly would be prejudicial and perhaps premature.

Across the world, governments have leveraged on advances in ICT to reduce pilferage of taxpayer funds and pass these benefits to their citizens through enhanced service delivery. For us, it seems we became allergic to this going by the outcomes of Ifmis and the reported losses at the NYS. How do you plan to use best practice in ICT in public procurement processes to save us these much-needed resources? Komen Moris, Eldoret

The use of ICT in public procurement has now been anchored in the existing legal framework, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 and the attendant Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations, 2020.

To this end, the government commenced the process of reviewing the existing ICT systems used in public procurement, including Ifmis, and has developed an e-Government Procurement Strategy and Road Map for delivery of a standalone, end-to-end and functional system that will facilitate realisation of the much-needed cost savings and efficiency in public procurement. Currently, all procurements, as per the presidential directive, are uploaded onto our web portal for transparency and we are on course to implementing 100 per cent e-procurement.

Sometimes back, President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended all procurement officers in all public institutions when he declared a national campaign to fight corruption in his government. What educational reforms can you propose to ensure procurement officers are well trained so as to serve with integrity and honesty? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

To ensure the realisation of functional, efficient and effective procurement management regimes that guarantee value for money and efficient service delivery to the public, there is need for empowerment and continuous capacity development for the procurement officers.

We are glad that KISM has been strong in regularly providing the necessary continuous capacity development for procurement officers. We are advocating for involvement of other enforcement agencies including EACC, ODPP and Asset Recovery Agency to offer sessions on law, ethics and integrity during trainings conducted for procurement officers.

I strongly believe this will enhance awareness among those charged with these responsibilities as they need to be acutely aware of the pitfalls attendant to falling foul of the law. We have seen many cases where junior officers comply with illegal directives unwittingly or under duress.

In terms of mandate, what is the difference between PPRA and the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board? At what point do the two converge? Aileen Ayuma, Kitengela

The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) is established under Section 8 (1) of the Act and is charged with monitoring, assessing and reviewing the public procurement and asset disposal system to ensure that they respect the national values and other provisions of the constitution. The broad functions of PPRA are detailed under section 7 of the Act.

On the other hand, the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) is an independent body established under section 27 (1) of the Act as a central independent procurement appeals review board which is vested with the responsibility of reviewing, hearing and determining tendering and asset disposal disputes. The functions of PPARB are provided for under 28 of the Act.

As demonstrated above, PPRA and PPARB are separate bodies with specific roles that complement each other to ensure fairness, transparency and accountability in public procurement.

 In terms of access to government procurement by the youth, women and persons with disability-owned enterprises under Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), are you satisfied with the performance? What more can the government do to enhance participation by the named groups? Faith Awino Okumu, Kisumu

Every financial year the Government reserves at least 30 per cent of tendering opportunities for uptake by enterprises owned by youth, women and PWDs. For instance, in the 2018/2019 FY, contracts worth Sh30 billion (50.55 per cent of reserved tenders) were awarded to enterprises owned by youth, women and PWDs; and in the 2019/2020 FY, contracts worth Sh32.7 billion (50.84 per cent of reserved tenders) were awarded to the same group (Economic Survey, 2020).

A number of factors relating to availability of funds, level of performance of the awarded contracts by the groups and timely payment of performed contracts have affected implementation of the programme.

We continuously examine factors affecting the participation of the youth, women and PWDs. The findings of the study will inform the necessary interventions and strategies to ensure that the AGPO programme attains its primary objective which is to maximize on the potential of the disadvantaged groups and enhance socio-economic development of our country.

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