Almost all public and private conversations today include something about devolution and the new constitutional dispensation. And rightly so considering the electorate is more politically aware and mature since citizens were active participants in the crafting of the devolved units since the initial sittings at the historic Bomas of Kenya.

As a consequence, expectations are high that following swearing-in of leaders to various legislative assemblies and inauguration of Kenya’s fourth Head of State, the taxpayer is looking to reap the immediate, medium-term and long-term dividends of this expanded and bloated system.

Its success will be measured by the speed, cost and efficiency of service delivery. That means, the public does not expect to find that some bad habits have been devolved to the county administrations. That includes corruption, politics of exclusion, and nepotism. To help the process along, one of the most important breakfast meetings took place yesterday in Nairobi.

Stuck in court

The teams of Kenya Institute of Supplies Management led by their CEO Chris Oanda and the Transition Authority were candid in their assessment: Devolved government has been given a tray of raw eggs or a poisoned chalice in tendering and procurement. Their success shall depend largely on how well county governments ensure procurement is watertight.

There will be a lot of contracts, goods and services needed to kick-start county operations. Botched procurements will mean wasted resources and a county government stuck in court corridors, thereby unable to deliver on their mandate. As Mr Oanda says: “If the tax payer is to get value for the money spent in the devolved system, correct, transparent and accountable public procurement must be the very basic minimum our new leaders need to guarantee to the citizens. Governors in the 47 Counties and 22 or so Cabinet Secretaries must strive to avoid the IEBC BVR Kit mis-procurement debacle.”

There are professionally trained Supply Chain and procurement specialists posted to each county to assist governors deal with the public procurement riddle. These officers’ role should be the mantra with which the new county governors and principal secretaries, CEOs of public and private sector organisations must operate in their pursuit of ex