Public entities must embrace openness

Public entities must embrace openness

Action will be taken against public entities that have failed to make open their procurement, Deputy President William Ruto has said.

He said it was mandatory for all the entities to maintain, continuously update and publicise the procurement of public goods, works and services as contained in the Executive Order No. 2 of 2018.

The Deputy President called on the Treasury to forward the list of the outfits that had not adhered to the Order to the Head of Public Service within a month for action to be taken.

“We would want to know the heads of these entities that are pulling us back, and action taken against them,” he said on Monday in Nairobi during the launch of the Kenya Open Government Partnership National Action Plan III 2018-2020.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich observed that openness and transparency in the government had resulted to increased public participation in the budget-making process.

“This has led to more oversight and, importantly, now our budget is more public interest-guided,” said Mr Rotich.

He said public entities that will fail to adhere to the Executive Order No. 2 of 2018 would not be able to access funds from the government.
The CS said Treasury was in the process of adopting an end-to-end solution to procurement that will make public tenders open to the public, thereby weed-out criminals from the process.

Present were the Speaker of the Senate Ken Lusaka, Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo, Makueni Deputy Governor Adelina Mwau, Head of the Delegation of the European Union Stefano Dejak, United Nations Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, among others.
Dr Ruto noted that with improved technology, public entities need to espouse less confidentiality, few secrets, more information and more openness.
“That is how progressive governments need to be; openness is necessary for inclusivity, informed participation, effective democracy and the holding of power to account,” he added.

He explained that although it started in 2011, the Open Government Partnership had become the pre-eminent international initiative committed to transparency, accountability and openness.
The Deputy President lauded Elgeyo-Marakwet, Makueni and Vihigacounties for taking up the initiative and called for more to subscribe to it so as to stimulate fact-based conversations in their respective areas of administration.
While urging the judiciary and other institutions, which are not already part of the Open Government Partnership, to make their commitments and join the march towards making Kenya an open society, Dr Ruto said the country had committed itself to “promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.” 
“Anyone who has been in Kenya over the last year or two will attest that we are boldly and publicly living this commitment,” he noted.
Mr Dejak pledged to continue supporting Kenya as it strives to make open its operations. 
“The technological advancement in Kenya provides a good ground for the citizens to get information and cultivate open governance. Over time, this has led to accountable, inclusive and transparent leadership, thereby enhancing service delivery,” he said.
The Delegation of the European Union boss noted that through transparency and accountability, the working relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature was growing stronger.
“These developments are a signal to the international community of Kenya’s intentions to reform its investment profile,” added Mr Dejak.
By subscribing to open governance, Mr Chatterjee said Kenya had set ground for better governance through technology “because the initiative encourages public scrutiny of government’s work”.

“The civil society and the media now need to educate the public about the importance of open data,” he said.

The Speaker of the Senate promised to fine-tune public participation so that it is not carried out as a ritual.

“We need to have a structured of public participation. We do not want it to be done for formality purposes. A bill is already in the Senate that will set a threshold for public participation,” noted Mr Lusaka.

The Makueni Deputy said the County had opened up to the public for scrutiny through the adoption of open contracting data standard, capacity building on open contracting, and improved transparency and accountability in public procurement processes.

These, she said, had helped deter fraud and corruption in the county.