There is always time for up-to-date reporting on the “old” Auditor General Reports. These reports scrutinize the budget income and expenditure for the financial years of 2013/2014 to 2016/17 .
Why is this not an outdated issue? Precisely BECAUSE the reports have been submitted a long time ago. All deadlines are now over for everyone that WAS expected to act in response.
What followed after the Reports?
Chances are good that you can still easily produce a little exclusive series in your programme or newspaper or blog – with some research and asking questions to the right people, starting with the person who chairs the Public Accounts Committee of the County Assembly. Meanwhile, the county assemblies must have reacted with recommendations. But as far as we know the most of them take their time – or they never do. Which is a story in itself.
These steps will guide you to do your story:
- Get the Auditor General Reports for the past years. here on the OAG website. (Search the on the overview pages with your computer or mobile device search function for your county’s name to avoid long scrolling. Here’s how to do it)
- Read one report and understand the points. In most cases there are one or two dozen cases which the Auditor General has reprimanded. This website or experts in your county may help you to understand what went wrong.
- Our timeline for Auditor General reports informs about the course of law. In all years we observed that even the AG reports themselves came later than the constitution prescribed. Not to mention the provisions in the Public Audit Act of 2015. As we write, in December 2018, the reports on the counties about the 2016/17 financial year have just recently been published.
- So: Has the County Assembly taken a stand and recommended any action on the years up to June 2016? Has the CEC Finance acted accordingly as the law states? What was the outcome? Or did he give a written reason for not following recommendations? Is this all according to the law?see the timeline for Auditor General reports
- For this story it is most efficient not to just pick one or two of the most interesting stories from the Auditor General Report. The reason for this fact is that you have only a few people to interview to get all the stories started, i.e. the Speaker of the County Assembly and the County Executive member for finance. There may be others involved to interview.
- Make it a little series. This works even in radio where you as a reporter only get 90 seconds for each story.
- If you want to invite the CEC Finance to your radio programme for an interview about the cases and their outcome make sure the audience is not just informed by buzzwords but with actual case facts.
- In the process of investigation do not forget to follow up on recommendations the Auditor General has given. Example: There are some counties where the Auditor General recommended that money from the County Assembly members acquired without legal reason should be recovered. The County Clerk is in charge of that. Has this been done? Whether or not the recommendations were followed – it is news! Because we as journalists are neither judges; defenders nor public prosecutors.
- If the report has found facts that constitute an offence the Auditor General shall inform the agencies in charge of prosecution (Public Audit Act Sec. 64) . So the Auditor General is also a source for these follow-up stories.
But what about the old Reports?
Reports about the OAG findings on county finances for the financial year of are supposed to be handed to the County Assemblies three months after tabling. This is not the case. But no matter when they are tabled, the County Assemblies shall respond three months later. Once they were in the Assembly they have become public official documents which you are entitled to look at. And they should be online shortly thereafter on the County website and on the Auditor General Website.
But the process is grossly delaying. The reports are not yet there. Why is this so? The county may not have given access to the facts early enough. The Auditor General has said his offices are understaffed. Anything that you find out is worth a story in your medium. In the course of investigation you may also find out when the reports are expected to be submitted.
Note: An officer in the Auditor General’s office commits an offence if he informs you about a report or any details therein before it has become official (“… before the report is finalized and formally submitted to Parliament or County Assembly and copied to the audited entity and other authorized offices”). Public Audit Act Sec. 61 (e)
If you are not yet aware of the Auditor General’s tasks, read our general information pages.
You can dig out many of the stories even before other media. Because the OAG audits are often based on detailed reports of the Controller of Budget Controller of Budget (COB).
See also the story suggestions on the COB