The office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is an independent office. Article 228 of the Kenyan Constitution establishes the office. The Office of the Controller of Budget (OCOB) oversees the implementation of the national and county government budgets. The office exercises the oversight by authorizing withdrawals from public funds.
The holder of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya
The holder of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is entitled the Controller of Budget. The person serves for a non-renewable term of eight years. They are not eligible for re-appointment thereafter.
The current holder of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is Ms. Agnes Odhiambo.
The president nominates the person to hold the office. However, the National Assembly must approve the person before the president appoints them. The person should have extensive knowledge of public finance or 10 years in auditing public finance management,
Functions of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya
The functions of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya are as follows:-
The office oversees the way the national and the county governments implement their budgets. It plays this role through the controlling role.
The Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya plays its oversight role through control. Through the controlling role, the office authorizes withdrawals from public funds. The Constitution talks more about these funds; Equalization Fund (Article 204), Consolidated Fund (Article 206), and the County Revenue Fund (Article 207).
The law allows the Controller of Budget to reject any withdrawal from any public fund. This is especially if they lack the satisfaction that the law authorizes such a withdrawal.
The law requires the Controller of Budget to submit quarterly budget implementation reports to parliament. These reports relate to how the national and the county governments spend their budgets. The Controller of Budget submits the quarterly budget implementation reports to both the Senate and the National Assembly.
They are quarterly reports because the Controller of Budget should submit them every four months.
The Office of the Controller of Budget also prepares annual reports and special reports. These reports also relate to how the national and the county governments implement their budgets. The office submits these reports to parliament and the national executive.
The Controller of Budget provides advisory opinion to parliament on financial matters in cases where a Cabinet Secretary halts the transfer of funds to a certain state organ or public entity.
The Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya may initiate investigations as an independent office. The investigation may be its own initiative or upon receiving a complaint from a member of the public. Article 252 (1) (a) of the Constitution guarantees these powers to the office.
The Office of the Controller of Budget has the powers necessary for conciliation, mediation, and negotiation. These powers are under Article 252 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
Public Sensitization role
The Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya plays a key public sensitization role. It disseminates information on budget implementation by both the national government and the county governments.
Removal of the Controller of Budget from office
The holder of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya can leave office within the grounds found in Article 251 of the Constitution. These grounds are-
- serious violation of the Constitution or any other law. This includes a contravention of Chapter Six (on Leadership and Integrity),
- gross misconduct, whether in the performance of their functions or otherwise.
- physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of office.
The Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is key
The Office of the Controller of Budget is vital in ensuring fiscal transparency. It promotes fiscal accountability and checks and balances in public finance management.
The quarterly and annual budget implementation reports that the office provides are vital. They are essential to determine whether public officials spend public money prudently. People use them to find out if the national and the county governments prioritize their needs in budget implementation.
The Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya publishes quarterly budget implementation reports that most county governments do not provide. The Public Finance Management (PFM) Act mandates county governments to provide these reports. They should then submit them to the county assemblies and publicize them. However, most counties do not do that in violation of the law.
Finally, the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya provides essential recommendations to improve public finance management. These recommendations are often in the budget implementation reports, advisories and other special reports. For example, it has often raised sensitive queries concerning counties expenditure on foreign travel and dubious miscellaneous allowances. It also raised issues on the lack of (or ineffectual) internal audit offices at the county level.