The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) shall audit and report within six months after the financial year, accounts of public entities among others, accounts of the county governments and assemblies as well as all other funds and authorities under the county governments (complete list see Article 229 of the constitution).
(The six months deadline can usually not be met – the Auditor General has asked for an extension (source, ext. Link)
The Auditor General has the power to summon witnesses. Which means that in normal cases those who can assist in investigations have no right to refuse cooperation Constitution Article 252 (3 d)
The Auditor General is an independent office (Articles 248 and 249 of the constitution). He or she is appointed by the Kenyan President for a term of eight years and can not be re-appointed. The Auditor General is “subject only to this Constitution and the law” and “… independent and not subject to direction or control by any person or authority”, as stipulated in Art. 249 (2) (a) and (b) of the Constitution. The same Article also requires the Parliament to allocate adequate funds so that the independent performance of the OAG is secured. Some say the independence is threatened because the Public Audit Act has entitled the Public Service Commission to hire staff for the OAG (source, ext. Link).
Only a specially appointed tribunal can remove the Auditor General from office under Article 251 of the Constitution. The Article names the conditions and procedure for such removal.
For the purpose of RoGGKenya the county audit reports are the most important. Usually there are two separate reports:
- County Executive Budget
- County Assembly Budget
- and sometimes even a third one on the County Government’s Financial Statements. The latter report may not be found for all the counties on the AOG website (ext. Link).
Access to Information Issues
Contrary to constitutional provisions, the bulk of the 2013/14 reports on the counties bears a signature of the auditor general dated 10 months after the financial year’s end (signed in May 2015 ). However, the OAG tweeted on December 2015 that the last county report on the 2013/14 financial year could now be accessed online by the public. This was 17 months after the financial year that ended June 2014.
Also, it was not easy for a journalist in 2015 to receive a published report or get any comment on the same via phone or mail.
With the enactment of the new Public Audit Act of 2015, and if this law is followed, all these problems should disappear. It has detailed provisions on who must do what and when with the audit reports. The Act also requires the respective documents to be published online within a specified timeframe.
The county audit reports shall be submitted to the county assemblies (The constitution Art. 229 (7)). Which means, you can demand a copy from your county assembly the moment it is tabled as it may be months before it is published online.
Three months after submission of the audit to the county, these reports shall be debated and appropriate action taken (The constitution Art. 229 (8).
The delays and silence about the reports are regrettable because even the relatively short Auditor General Reports contain a host full of stories for any journalist. We have compiled hints in a special section on this web page, see these suggestions.
The OAG reports for the county frequently pick up findings from the detailed Controller of Budget Report. This Report comes out earlier but is very hard to get. See the page about the Controller of Budget.
The published Audit Reports are quite short which makes them easy to digest. But according to sources in the counties more detailed versions of the audit reports are submitted to the county. You may try to get them for more detailed analysis of cases and for proper follow-up investigations.
Details of the OAG-Operations are specified in the Public Audit Act of 2015 (whole text)