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Audit uncovers 687 excess staff at Treasury

The Auditor General says the National Treasury has hundreds of excess staff, putting a spotlight on the State department that draws one of the highest wage bills from the Exchequer. 

The latest audit report indicates that 687 staff have been hired to positions created without authorisation or seconded to posts above the approved headcount.  

"Review of the National Treasury staff establishment revealed that 39 positions with no authorised establishment had 92 members of staff in post," says Nancy Gathungu in her report. 

This includes high-profile economists, accountants and clerical staff in several departments with some offices exceeding the approved staff headcount by more than 700 per cent.  

Some of the departments highlighted include the intergovernmental fiscal relations and financial and sectoral affairs departments, which have 17 senior economists hired without authorisation.  

"Similarly, 45 positions with an authorised establishment of 466 members of staff had 1,061 staff members in-post exceeding the approved establishment by 595 staff members," the audit. 

The report indicates that as of June 2022, the Treasury listed 154 chief clerical officers against an authorised establishment of 22, representing an excess of 132. Similarly, 133 staff are listed as senior clerical officers, which is more than four times the authorised number of 30.     

The audit comes in the wake of revelations by the Public Service Commission (PSC) that 15 State organisations have excess members of staff. "Five of these 15 organisations had excess staff members of over 50 per cent," said PSC in its report.

"These were Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (115 per cent), National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority (72 per cent), State Department for Devolution (61 per cent), State Department for Higher Education and Research (69 per cent) and State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services (59 per cent)." 

At the same time, PSC revealed that six other organisations had high levels of ghost workers with more than 100 staff members compared to the number recorded in the staff register.  

"Two of the organisations (State House and New Kenya Cooperative Creameries) had a disparity of 483 and 492 respectively."  

Out of a total of 289 public organisations and parastatals, just 21 had developed a comprehensive human resource management plan that should inform the recruitment of new staff and training.      

The revelations come despite commitments by the government to cut the public sector wage bill by more than a third over the next four years. This has been a moving target for the government for years as it routinely engages bilateral lenders for additional financing.  

This year, the government has committed to implementing a common payroll system linked to the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis) across all ministries, state departments and counties.  

This also entails rolling out a system that will consolidate staff and payroll data in the public service through a single database by July.

Data from the National Treasury and assessments by the IMF indicate that wages and benefits for civil servants stood at Sh539 billion in the 2022/2023 financial year, up from Sh493 billion in 2020/2021. In the current financial year, the wage bill is projected to increase by Sh45 billion to Sh584 billion.  

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