THE LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT SYSTEMS IN KENYA
Historical development of Public Procurement in Kenya
The Public Procurement system in Kenya has grown from a rudimentary stage during the colonial and post-colonial period to a vibrant regulated system that compares well with the
international standards. I would like to trace this growth to present day, first for the benefit of the new generation that is entering the profession of Procurement, secondly as one who has been involved in Public Procurement for now over 30 years having joined it in 1983. For ease of managing the massive data and better understanding, I would like to divide my discourse as follows:
i. The colonial period
ii. Post-colonial era i.e. 1963-1978
iv. Era of reform 2001-2010
v. The Era of the New Constitution i.e. 2010 to the present
We are sure the above classification of epochs will make it easier for readers to know what changes were taking place in area of Public Procurement. It will also bring to light how the
various political systems and regimes affected Public Procurement (Political economy so to speak).
Kenya was a colony state under Britain. The economy was arranged so as to serve the colonial masters where Kenya was converted into a cheap source of raw materials and
manufactured goods were to be imported from Great Britain.
To facilitate the process of procurement, the following structures were in place:
a. Crown Agents
Handled overseas purchases on behalf of the Government. Its prominent role continued into 1970s.
a. Central Tender Committee (CTB) was established in 1955 through a Treasury Circular. CTB was to handle all government tenders.
a. In 1959, Procurement and Supplies Unit was established under the Ministry of Public Works to handle common-user goods and services. In 1960 it was converted to
Supplies Branch which exists to date but with much reduced mandate.
It should be appreciated that during this period the government organization was small and therefore Procurement and Supplies was centralized. In 1960, Supplies Branch went through further restructuring and the Chief Storekeeper (possibly a White man) became the Chairman and the Chief Purchasing Officer became its Secretary. All Government Departments were to obtain their common-user supplies from Supplies Branch. The Government Press under the office of the Governor and later the President was to provide the printing services.