The Role of the Auditor General in Kenya

This article looks at the role of the Auditor General in Kenya. Originally the name of the Office of the Auditor General was the Exchequer and Audit Department. With time, it changed to the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General.

During this period, the Office derived its mandate from the Exchequer and Audit Act Cap 412. This law provided for the audit of the Central Government by the Controller and Auditor General. Later, parliament amended the Act to provide for the audit of Local Authorities and State Corporations.

The Public Audit Act 2003 which became effective on 9 January 2004 established a more independent Office of the Controller and Auditor General. It renamed it to the Kenya National Audit Office (KENAO).

The role of the Auditor General in Kenya derives from Article 229 of the Kenyan Constitution. Chapter 15, Article 248, Section 3 and Article 249, Section 2 (a) and (b) provides for the independence of the Office of the Auditor General.

The Office of the Auditor General is one of the Independent Offices recognized by the Kenyan Constitution. The other is the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya.

The legislation governing the role of the Auditor General in Kenya includes:

  • Constitution of Kenya 2010,
  • Public Audit Act 2015,
  • The Public Finance Management Act 2012,
  • International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions.

The primary role of the Auditor General in Kenya is the oversight or assurance role of ensuring accountability within the three arms of government (the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Executive) as well as the Constitutional Commissions and Independent Offices.

The Kenyan Constitution establishes the Office of the Auditor General under Article 229.

According to Article 229 of the Kenyan Constitution, the President should nominate, and with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint the Auditor General.

To qualify to be the Auditor-General, a person should have extensive knowledge of public finance or at least ten years’ experience in auditing or public finance management.

The Auditor-General holds office, subject to Article 251, for a term of eight years and is not eligible for re-appointment.

The Role of the Auditor General in Kenya

The role of the Auditor General in Kenya with respect to article 229 is as follows. Within six months after the end of each financial year, the Auditor-General should audit and report, in respect of that financial year, on the:

  • accounts of the national and county governments;
  • accounts of all funds and authorities of the national and county governments;
  • the accounts of all courts;
  • accounts of every commission and every independent office set up by the Constitution;
  • accounts of the National Assembly, the Senate, and the county assemblies;
  • the accounts of political parties that receive funding from public funds;
  • public debt (how much the government owes to lenders); and
  • accounts of any other entity that legislation requires the Auditor-General to audit.

Article 229 of the Constitution extends the role of the Auditor General in Kenya further:

  • The Auditor-General may audit and report on the accounts of any entity that receives money from public funds.
  • An audit report should confirm whether or not public money has been applied lawfully and in an effective way. According to ICPAK, this requires the Auditor-General not only to look at the fiscal and managerial accountability aspects but also to confirm whether or not the programmes implemented lead to results and outcomes that positively transform the lives of our people.

The Auditor General should submit the audit reports to Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) or the relevant county assembly for each county.

Within three months after receiving an audit report, Parliament or the county assembly should debate and consider the report and take appropriate action.

Other roles of the Auditor General in Kenya

Beyond article 229, Section 7 of the Public Audit Act 2015 contains a further role of the Auditor General in Kenya, to:

  • give assurance on the effectiveness of internal controls, risk management and overall governance at national and county government;
  • satisfy himself or herself that all public money has been used and applied to the purposes intended and that the expenditure conforms to the authority for such expenditure;
  • confirm that—
    (i) all reasonable precautions have been taken to safeguard the collection of revenue and the acquisition, receipt, issuance and proper use of assets and liabilities; and
    (ii) collection of revenue and acquisition, receipt, issuance and proper use of assets and liabilities conforms to the authority;
  • provide any other reports as may be necessary under Article 254 of the Constitution;

The relevant committees that discuss the Auditor General reports are:

  • Public Accounts Committees (PAC) for National and County Government accounts, and
  • Public Investment Committees (PIC) for accounts of State and County Corporations.

After discussions are complete, the Parliamentary and County Assembly committees with the assistance of the Office of the Auditor-General give recommendations. The entities concerned should implement these recommendations.

Thereafter, the Auditor-General follows up to confirm whether the entities have implemented the recommendations.

The relationship between the Auditor General and Parliament, and the County Assemblies

The relationship is one of partnership in the oversight role. This is how it works.

The Executive (Accounting Officers) submits a budget to Parliament or County Assembly for allocation of resources.

Parliament or County Assembly provides the resources (appropriates) and the President or Governor assents. The executive implements the programmes as in the budget where the focus should be towards service delivery.

The executive must account for the funds at the end of each financial year through financial statements to the Auditor-General for Audit.

Parliament and County Assemblies requires the Auditor-General to confirm whether the funds have been applied lawfully and in an effective way.

The Auditor-General submits his/her audit reports to Parliament and relevant County Assemblies for discussions, recommendations, and action.

The National Assembly should appoint an independent auditor to audit the Auditor-General.

For more information about the role of the Auditor General in Kenya, visit oagkenya.go.ke.

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Meet The Author

George Githinji
Githinji comments on the current political and social issues in Kenya. He's passionate about devolved governance and public finance. He also manages the @UgatuziKenya twitter platform.

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