Exposed: How an intern hired staff for a government agency

An interview panel.

An interview panel: An intern was part of an interview and selection committee that met with 235 candidates and hired 45 of them as county coordinators.

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The National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) used an intern to recruit county coordinators for deployment across the country, an audit has revealed, exposing human resource management lapses at the agency set up to help Kenya reduce poverty and inequality.

The intern was part of an interview and selection committee that met with 235 candidates and hired 45 of them as county coordinators, though the process was marred by irregularities that saw undeserving people hired at the expense of qualified professionals, an audit has revealed.

"A review of the interview scorecards revealed that the interview panel included a human resources trainee. The intern was not appointed as a member of the interview and selection committee but participated in the interview process as a panellist, awarded marks and signed the interview score sheets," Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu reveals in a report on NGAAF for the year ending June 2023.

Ms Gathungu notes that NGAAF could not explain why the intern was involved in interviewing candidates for senior positions, nor could it prove that members of the shortlisting and selection committees had declared that they had no conflict of interest in the recruitment process.

"In the absence of the declaration, the integrity of the process may have been compromised," she says.

Established in 2015 as one of the government's Vision 2030 initiatives, NGAAF is mandated to address the plight of vulnerable groups by reducing poverty and inequality through improved access to financial facilities for the socio-economic empowerment of women, youth, persons with disabilities, vulnerable children and the elderly in the country.

However, the Auditor-General notes that the Fund continues to operate without a human resources plan or a Human Resources Management Advisory Committee, which is supposed to manage its recruitment processes, constitute interview panels and appoint its representatives to the interview panel.

"As a result, the recruitment process was in breach of NGAAF policy," it says, referring to the hiring of 45 district coordinators.

The report also faulted the process for failing to recruit people with disabilities, even though some of the 27 people who applied for the positions were qualified.

In Tana River County, the audit notes that the person hired as county coordinator came second in the recruitment process, but in an anomaly, his score was somehow raised from 47.8 to 60.3. A similar case was observed in Homa Bay County.

"Had the anomaly not occurred, the second ranked candidate who scored 56.6 (in Tana River) would have been the highest ranked candidate and therefore appointed instead of the person selected by the selection committee," it says.

"Records show that the successful candidate for Makueni County was rejected in writing by the County Patron and indicated her preferred candidate who was ranked second and subsequently appointed as County Coordinator.

"This was contrary to the provisions of the Human Resources Policy and Procedures Manual, which states that staff are recruited on the basis of merit after a recruitment exercise and not on the basis of personal preference," the audit added.

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