US point out gaps in Kenya’s financial management system portal

The United States says Kenya’s Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) is vulnerable to manipulation and hacking, leading to loss of billions of shillings of taxpayer money.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) says in a new report that Ifmis faces multiple risks that have been highlighted by American firms doing or seeking to do business with Kenya.

“US companies have expressed concerns about Ifmis due to insufficient connectivity and technical capacity in county government offices, apathy from county government officials, central control shutdowns, and security gaps that render the system vulnerable to manipulation and hacking,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in the report.

A review by USTR notes that Kenya is neither a party to the WTO (World Trade Organisation) Agreement on Government Procurement nor an observer to the WTO Committee on Government Procurement.

Ifmis was created to provide audit trails of all financial transactions with details of the person who logged in, the time, the computer used and the action performed in efforts to end graft.

It is the technological tool through which the government monitors the national finances, from planning through budgeting to procurement, payment, accounting and reporting.

However, it has been at the centre of corruption claims in some of the largest elaborate theft syndicates and graft exposés to hit Kenya both at the national and county government levels over the years leading to questions over its efficacy at guaranteeing accountability.

In 2016, senior officials of an agency under the Ministry of Health tried to steal Ksh30 million by manipulating Ifmis in a case that lifted the lid on an elaborate theft syndicate that involved corrupt government officials and crooked suppliers.

The attempted theft in May 2016 was detected and stopped at the last minute as accountants at Afya House prepared payments for alleged suppliers by six companies.

The case demonstrated how fraudsters working with wayward officials have managed to siphon billions of shillings from state coffers using dubious suppliers’ contracts.

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