The Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) was designed to automate public financial management.
The system was to automate planning, budgeting, procurement, accounting, electronic funds transfer, auditing, asset management and financial reporting for national and county governments.
Yet in nearly five years and billions of shillings spent on its upgrade, Ifmis has done exactly the opposite. It has slowed down processes, facilitated corruption and is a tool to punish accounting officers in bad books with the powers.
The Council of Governors, in a press statement of April 10 this year said Ifmis had not worked since Monday, April 3.
“The disruption has affected county governments’ payments for emergency services, development payments and payments of workers by counties,” the council said.
BILLIONS OF SHILLINGS LOST
It was through Ifmis that billions of shillings were lost at the National Youth Service under the Ministry of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru.
Before her elevation to head the Devolution ministry after March 2013 General Election, Ms Waiguru who is now a gubernatorial aspirant for Kirinyaga County on the Jubilee Party ticket, was a director in the finance ministry that introduced Ifmis.
“Ifmis has been used to unlawfully control expenditure thereby undermining the operations and independence of public agencies,” the Commission on Administrative Justice had stated on October 2016 in an advisory to the national Treasury.
However, the commission “noted the Treasury’s frequent and sometimes arbitrary closure of Ifmis targeting specific items without notice thereby undermining services.”
SHUT DOWN IFMIS
“The national Treasury shut down Ifmis on June 27, 2016 thus affecting operations and leading to pending bills. Whereas the primary objective of Ifmis in financial management is noble, it has become a tool by the Treasury to unlawfully control public expenditure,” the commission stated.
Contacted for a response the Treasury communications wing said: “All the concerns being raised were exhaustively dealt with in January. There is nothing new.”
Government accounting officers who spoke to Nation but on condition of anonymity told the same story of the inefficiency and corruption through Ifmis.
For days, I have been trying to access Ifmis to pay bills but it can’t go through. Treasury keeps telling me that they are working to resolve the problem, said one accounting officer in an independent body.
Yet another officer claimed that because of his perceived political affiliation, the National Treasury deliberately does something to Ifmis to punish me.
The officer added that he has had to send one of his staff to the Treasury “to talk” to them before any of their expenditure can be approved. ‘Talking’ is understood to involve giving inducements to the officers.
Every year the government warns public institutions over low absorption rate of budgets which leads to huge returns to the Treasury. Ifmis is a corruption channel and accounting officers sometimes have to bribe the officers at the Treasury to have their financial plans approved an accounting officer toldthe Nation.
In the November 2016 Ifmis effectiveness audit report, the Auditor-General Edward Ouko discovered that the system had been marred by technological loopholes, making it prone to abuse and possible loss of public funds.
“The Ifmis department had not established comprehensive security policies on security control,” Mr Ouko said.