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Body to weed out errant procurement managers

By Graham Kajilwa | October 12th 2021

From left: Kiseb Acting CEO Fred Ongisa, Kism)Chair John Karani, Caleb Ogot, Walubengo Wasike, Kism Acting CEO Martin Gachukia and Director Stanley Maindi. [Samson Wire. Standard].

When irregularities into the 2013 Sh26 billion laptop tender came to light, it was the procurement process that was in the spotlight.

The same was with the Sh5 billion Covid-19 scandal in 2020, and the Sh5 billion Afya House scandal of 2016 among others.

So synonymous have procurement and supply chain departments become with misappropriation of money, corruption and flawed processes that it has turned out to be a daunting task for professionals to shed off this tag.

This has informed the recent review of the syllabus that expects professionals to maintain high standards, register and be licensed by a recognised professional body.

According to the Kenya Institute of Supply Examinations Board (Kiseb), those who will go through the new syllabus, whose first exam will be administered in April next year, will be a ‘refined lot’ aware of the dynamics around their work.

Kiseb Chair Wasike Walubengo says so bad has this image been dented that people have a blanket condemnation whenever one introduces himself or herself as a procurement officer. “Everybody wants to look at you as a corrupt person,” he said.

Mr Walubengo said the new syllabus launched last week will address the gaps and equip trainees with knowledge and attitude in modern trade and best practices. “And when we send them into practice, they are well aware and ethically informed to practice and change this notion that procurement is a corrupt profession,” he said.

Some of the modules in the curriculum include analytical skills, which will help professionals to make sound decisions, especially in the evaluation and writing a professional opinion on collective decisions made by the evaluation team.

Procurement related corruption cases make up about six per cent of reports filed with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as per the 2013/2014 report.

In the same financial year, EACC received 117 reports relating to public procurement irregularities.

“Of all government activities, public procurement is one of the most vulnerable to fraud and corruption. Bribery in government procurement is estimated to be adding 10-20 per cent to total contract costs,” read the 2015 EACC report titled: An Evaluation of Corruption in Public Procurement: A Kenyan Experience.

Kenya Institute of Supply Management Chair John Karani says on many occasions, procurement officers are just executors of commands that come from the top.

“But when things go wrong, we carry the bulk of the burden. But we are out to change that perception and train our own people to take responsibility,” he said.

“Supply chain is a teamwork effort. The corruption that happens in the supply chain starts from high up, sometimes in an organisations culture... but I can tell you by the time it comes to the supply chain person, we are just executors”

Karani said up to 70 per cent of office expenditure is in the hands of the supply chain, which calls for professionals to be equipped with tools to deter them from temptations.

He said the institute has mooted a disciplinary committee to discipline, correct and self-regulate members who go astray as well as amplify the good work done by the profession.

“Procurement people are not thieves. And there many of us like that, but we just happen to be victims of negative narrative which we are out to change,” said Karani.

Caleb Ogot, Senior Deputy Director National Treasury urged entities to staff procurement and supply chain personnel with requisite qualifications and competencies. 

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