A Diagnosis of the Public Procurement System in Kenya

For a country of its income level and without much endowments with natural resources from which to extract rents, Kenya’s revenue mobilisation effort which fluctuates between 18-20% of the Gross Domestic Product is impressive. And yet despite this effort through legislation supporting revenue mobilization, the development results of public spending remains unimpressive. The stark development needs of the country and high levels of poverty make it imperative for government agencies and departments to utilise resources in the most cost effective and efficient ways. This paper traces the institutions and processes that govern the use of public resources within the public sector in order to identify whether the broad goals of the public procurement policy are being achieved. Following this detailed review and selected case studies, the study contends that while the quest to use public procurement to advance economic development is a legitimate policy goal, government procurement in Kenya unequivocally fails to do so. And this failure is regular and consistent throughout most state departments, ministries and agencies, suggesting that the incentives for a clean, transparent and effective public procurement in Kenya will remain a long-term challenge in Kenya’s development path.