Procurement has over the years proven to be the Achilles’ heel of public sector tenders with billions of shillings lost mainly through corruption. Since the early 1990s, a lot has been done in an attempt to clear the procurement mess, the most dramatic being the late Finance minister David Mwiraria’s suspension of all procurement officials when Narc administration came to power.
Thereafter, we have seen a few prosecutions and tightening of the law through a series of well-meaning executive circulars. The latest such caveat in July last year came from Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua requiring all government agencies to list their tenders online.
But for whatever reasons, this is yet to be fully heeded by procurement officers who are naturally required to obey such ethically sound guidelines resulting from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order Number Two of 2018.
The tenders portal features such details as the value, criteria and participants, both official and from private sector. These details are very crucial in flagging dubious tenders that have mostly feathered the nest of rogue officials but more importantly piled our national debt, which is approaching crisis proportions.
As this newspaper reported on Wednesday, there has been rising compliance over the months but a lot of the agencies have been slow in playing ball. Only Sh56 billion worth of tenders have been listed so far. Legally, there should be no good reason for not complying with legal guidelines and indeed this should attract penalties as stipulated in the law.
If the procurement has already been done, it should be presumed the information is available not only for filing online but also for providing to the procurement watchdogs and tendering entities especially in case of disputes.
All procuring entities last year nominated officers for training in order to facilitate continuous updating of the portal. In the absence of full compliance, the government has to tell the public what has gone wrong or if the agencies have been given leeway to comply or not.
Only full disclosure of tender details will save the country from the wanton theft perpetrated by officials paid by taxpayers and their private sector accomplices.