The Controller of Budget, presently Agnes Odhiambo, is in charge of overseeing the current financial operations of the state of Kenya including the counties. According to the Constitution, the Controller of Budget is supposed to approve all monies before they are withdrawn for expenditure.
She is obliged to submit four monthly – in effect they are quarterly – reports to Parliament and County Assemblies.
There are important sources and hints for following up on some issues of the CIDP, budget making, and expenditure which the COB records in her reports.
Unfortunately, you only find some old quarterly reports on the COB website. In most counties they stopped publishing the quarterly reports long ago. It seems that in some cases they do not exist at all. Furthermore, the yearly report the COB publishes for all the counties put together is not detailed enough for many journalistic research questions.
According to first hand sources from the counties many regional COB offices somehow see themselves as part of the the county finance administration than the independent oversight authority they are meant to be. This reflects in their behaviour towards an independent press. Their offices are also very small and embedded into the County Executive. Some say that after publishing and publicizing the first quarterly detailed report they were pressurized by the County Executive they were meant to control.
Story suggestions (1):
- Ask your county’s controller of budget for the detailed quarterly budget implementation reports
- Report on what she/he has said no matter what the result is
- If you get it use the report regularly to check against your research on budget revenue collection and expenditure, the CIDP and other plan’s status in the counties.
The county COB offices have a space for documents on the COB website but what they upload there is negligible.
The “International Budget Partnership” (in a report that – against the law – in January 2016), found out that only one County (Baringo) had published online the Budget Implementation (BIP) report of the first quarter in the 2015/16 financial year. But two months later, after the website was relaunched, the report could no longer be found on there.
All BIPs have been overdue since the end of October 2015. As many as 15 counties had not published any of the budget reports online which they were supposed to make available.
Example 1: In March 2016 the Kilifi COB County Officer had solely the latest, rough accumulated “Monthly Development Reports” online as of end February – for both Development and Recurrent Budget of the County.
If you are reporting about the Kilifi County you might visit that website monthly to download and analyse the latest report.
Example 2: Like most others, the latest document the Homa Bay COB County Officer had on his web page was the Budget-Implementation Report as of August 2013.
- Ask for the latest four-monthly report. Analyse it and report. If you do not get it, report on that.
- Interview the COB county coordinator of budget about his or her observations and find out what they think their role is.
- Be informed what their role should be (oversight).
- If they decline to be interviewed, this is a story as well.