MWAMISI: Koskei lays down the law, demands regulatory agencies improve services

Head of Public Service calls a meeting and makes 14 demands of monitoring agencies to perform better and wipe out corruption.

In Summary
  • Koskei, who has taken action to stamp out corruption in government circles, told parastatals to manage corruption risks in their organisations.
  • He acknowledged the pervasive threat of corruption and called for robust measures to identify, mitigate, and address graft and its risks.
Head of Public Service Felix Koskei.
SERVICE DELIVERY: Head of Public Service Felix Koskei.
Image: PCS

Why are some regulatory agencies virtually useless and biased, yet they are funded by the taxpayer? That’s what Kenyans want to know and the government is determined to fix the problems.

This has been frustrating in past governments where bureaucracy, corruption, compliance challenges, duplication of roles, and other problems leave Kenyans reeling in frustration and disappointment. There is a clear need to ease burdens on the Kenyan taxpayer and make agencies deliver.

Last week, Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei hosted an introspective and results-oriented retreat for Regulatory Agencies and Authorities at the School of Government in Mombasa. This was part of a process begun after Koskei took office and formed the Audit, Legal and Regulatory Compliance Department. Its mandate is to tackle issues affecting the performance of government agencies to ensure superior services.

The conference was titled “Regulatory Authorities and Agencies (RAA) as Critical Agents in the Frontline of Achieving the Kenya Kwanza Promise of Premier Service Delivery to Kenyans”.

In the engagement between the Executive Office of the President and the agencies, the results-driven Head of Public Service demanded sweeping improvement. He made it clear the President who appointed them expects them to be effective, fair and accountable.

He made it clear that agencies have power distributed to them by law and their failure would be a failure of government and a deep disappointment for the many Kenyans who elected it.

Regulatory agencies control sectors such as manufacturing, which involve the Kenya Bureau of Standards, National Environment Management Authority, and Department of Weights and Measures. Others agencies are involved in regulating the built environment such as the National Construction Authority while others monitor health, education, telecommunications, transportation, food and agriculture, among others.

At the conference held from April 11 to 12, Diaspora Affairs chief Musalia Mudavadi acknowledged improvement in various sectors but urged agencies to do more and adopt global best practices to optimise performance.

“I cannot recall a time when regulatory agencies were convened to a meeting like this one to specifically discuss regulation. I commend Head of Public Service Koskei for this,” Mudavadi said. He is also Prime Cabinet Secretary with a wealth of experience in government. He became a minister at age 24 and has worked with three governments.

Koskei ensured the engagements at the forum were interactive and candid, and that the agencies and authorities understood the ramifications of their action or inaction on the livelihoods of Kenyans and businesses. Sector by sector, issue by issue was tackled and challenges presented to chairpersons and chief executives. Specific demands were made.

It was clear that agencies must be proactive, react openly to the public and media and addresses issues conclusively. Those who cannot perform will have to exit and make way for competent Kenyans to take over and help the people.

Koskei made 14 unwavering demands to the agencies and authorities at the close of the conference. If the agencies are to follow through, change will be felt by Kenyans countrywide.

Firstly, he demanded agencies “get back to real work”, focusing on core responsibilities, ensuring they are not deflected from fulfilling their mandates.

Secondly, he instructed them to address challenges within existing legal frameworks. This means identifying and resolving issues within the legal structures governing regulatory bodies. Koskei emphasised the need for proactive measures to navigate legal obstacles. He urged them to collaborate and share workloads with peer agencies. This aims to foster collaboration among regulatory bodies, redistributing tasks to optimise efficiency and resource allocation across sectors.

Another demand was to employ multi-agency approaches for better regulation with a coordinated approach among regulatory bodies. He highlighted the importance of synergy in tackling complex regulatory challenges across sectors. He asked agencies to prioritise preventive measures in crisis management, underscoring the importance of mitigating risks and minimising the need for reactive crisis management.

Koskei, who has taken action to stamp out corruption in government circles, told parastatals to manage corruption risks in their organisations. He acknowledged the pervasive threat of corruption and called for robust measures to identify, mitigate, and address graft and its risks.

The agencies were directed to minimise conflicts of interest and revenue leakages. Kenyans understand the importance of integrity and transparency in these agencies. This requires regulatory bodies to prevent conflicts of interest and reduce revenue losses through leakages, another area that has angered Kenyans and which Koskei is keen to resolve quickly.

He demanded effective internal audit mechanisms, stressing the necessity of robust self-audits to ensure accountability, transparency, and adherence to mandates. Koskei launched the Zero Fault Audit campaign to ensure audit issues are tackled conclusively and in a timely way.

Recognizing the importance of technical expertise in regulatory enforcement, Koskei demanded agencies invest in development and training of compliance officers. He asked them to set and enforce regulatory targets with measurable goals. He also directed them to review and align their organisational structures to be effective.

He directed Principal Secretaries, who are ministry accounting officers, to prioritise their regulators in budget allocation and ensure they are adequately resourced to deliver on their mandates. He asked authorities to seek support from development partners, recognising the value of external assistance to enhance capacity, technical expertise, and resources.

The last demand Koskei made was for the chairpersons and chief executive officers to utilise technology for efficient regulatory implementation. He emphasised the transformative potential of technology to streamline regulatory processes, enhance monitoring capabilities, and improve services.

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