State rolls out unified payroll number to boost accountability

Sample of payslip purchase order form. [Getty Images]

President William Ruto has taken a decisive step towards taming the wage bill by ordering the implementation of a Unified Payroll Number (UPN) system in all state agencies.

The bold move, as revealed in official letters seen by The Standard, seeks to revolutionise the payment methods of government officials, streamline administrative processes, and promote transparency.

The impact of this system will be felt by civil servants, teachers, and employees across state agencies and parastatals since the employment number and the UPN, referred to as the payroll number on the T-Pay System, will be indicated on the employee's payslip.

In a letter dated April 24, in response to a circular from the Head of the Public Service, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) stated that the introduction of the UPN system aligns with the multi-sectoral taskforce findings and recommendations of the Capacity Assessment and Rationalisation of Public Service report (CARPS), which is meant to improve service delivery in the public sector.

The Commission emphasised the importance of issuing public servants with a permanent, unique identification number to improve accountability and streamline payroll management.

"The Head of the Public Service communicated the decision by the National Government to all Public Service entities to adopt an integrated Human Resource System known as the Unified Human Resource System (UHR). The system shall be a shared platform for Public Sector Human resources-related data, including payroll information," TSC CEO Nancy Macharia said in a letter addressed to teachers.

Under the newly introduced UPN Allocation System, every public servant will be assigned a permanent unique identification number. This system seeks to transform the management of government employees' payroll, fostering enhanced efficiency and greater accountability in the public sector.

The initiative follows the recommendations of the CARPS of 2015, which proposed the implementation of a Unified Human Resource and Payroll Number generation system for the Public Service.

"The initiative towards an integrated data platform follows recommendations of the CARPS Report (2015), which proposed, among other things, the implementation of a "Unified Human Resource and Payroll Number generating system (UHR and UPN) for the Public Service," reads a letter dated April 24, and copied to all directors and TSC Regional Directors, TSC County Directors and TSC Sub-County Directors.

"Hence, all public servants shall be issued with a permanent unique identification number under the Unified Payroll Numbers (UPN) Allocation System."

The CARPS report highlighted the need for a unified system linked to various databases such as the National Registration, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), and Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).

It warned of weak controls in human resource information and payroll management, a lack of a skills and competency framework, and the recruitment of under utilised staff.

The UPN system will consolidate all government officials, including civil servants, teachers, and state agency employees, under a single, streamlined payment structure. 

State officials said that the unified approach aims to eliminate discrepancies and ensure fair and equitable compensation for all public servants. By assigning each individual a permanent and unique identification number, the UPN system will enhance efficiency, reduce fraud, and eliminate redundant paperwork associated with multiple payroll systems.

President Ruto's drastic initiative comes at a crucial time when the government is committed to fostering transparency and accountability in public service. 

"I have instructed the Salaries and Remuneration Committee to give us international best practises as we need to reduce the gap between the people paid the least and those paid the most. It is not right for the people at the top to earn 100 times more than those at the bottom,” Ruto said on Friday.

The implementation of the UPN system addresses issues such as ghost workers, double-dipping, and inaccurate compensation, thereby safeguarding public funds and promoting responsible governance.

Sources at the Public Service Commission said that the UPN Allocation System promises to bring about a new era of efficient payroll management in the public sector. Through the allocation of unique identification numbers, authorities will be able to accurately monitor salary disbursements, ensuring that each public servant receives their rightful compensation.

The introduction of the UPN system signifies a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to modernise administrative processes and establish a fair and streamlined payment structure for all government officials.

"By revolutionising payroll management and promoting transparency, this groundbreaking initiative will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the public sector, fostering a culture of efficiency, fairness, and accountability."

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