BY HENRY KOSGEY
I have via a notice published in the Kenya Gazette on 8th October 2010, Legal Notice number 11901, appointed Joseph Kipketer Koskey the Managing Director of Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Sections of the press have reported that the Chairman of the National Standards Council, Karanja Thiong’o, the Permanent Secretary in my Ministry, Karanja Kibicho and Assistant Minister Nderitu Muriithi, as being critical of the appointment.
The facts of the appointment are as follows:
1. It is true that the Chairman of the national Standards Council signed a letter forwarding three names that had allegedly been shortlisted by the Council.
2. It however became apparent that the Chairman acted without the authority of the Council. Soon after receiving the chairman’s letter, I received correspondence from Council members informing me that there had been no consensus in the shortlist forwarded by the Chairman. They informed me that the letter was written before the selection process was complete and did not have the support of the Council. The correspondence I received detailed the following:
2.1 The current recruitment exercise that began in August 2010 received 74 applications out of which 15 people were shortlisted and 11 people interviewed.
2.2. In order to ensure transparency all the candidates were coded and their real names and identity not disclosed to the Chairman, Council members, the Permanent Secretary or myself.
2.3. At the end of the interview process the candidates were scored based on the questions asked and the top 5 candidates were deemed suitable for appointment subject to further vetting.
2.4 The council resolved to hold another meeting to vet the candidates further using three criteria; integrity; salary demands; track record.
2.5 Before this meeting could take place, the Chairman made a unilateral decision to forward names based purely on the mean scores and refused to hold a meeting to conduct any further vetting.
3. Faced with the concerns of the Council members, I directed them to hold a further meeting to try and achieve a consensus within the Council. Unfortunately, further meetings held by the Council failed to achieve any consensus. Minutes of the meetings show the division within the Council. A protest letter to the Chairman that was signed by 8 out of 13 Council members and copied to my Permanent Secretary and myself also details the lack of consensus.
4. Furthermore, minutes of a meeting held on Wednesday 6th October, show that the Council resolved that the lack of consensus requires the Minister to use his discretion in making the appointment. This discretion should be exercised from among the 5 candidates who were interviewed and who reached the final shortlist. These candidates would have been subject to a further vetting process had the Chairman respected the wishes the Council and allowed the process to reach its conclusion.
5. I therefore exercised my discretion and analyzed the 5 candidates as follows:
5.1. KEBS 039 decoded as Abdikadir Omar Aden scored 70%. He achieved a high score however he requested for a salary of KShs1,084,000. He later indicated that he was willing to have it reduced to KShs.900,000. This is still a high figure considering that the next highest paid employee at the Bureau, after the M.D., earns KShs.290,000.
5.2 KEBS 016 decoded as Eva Adega Oduor scored 66%. She is currently one of the Directors at KEBS and worked closely with the previous M.D. There was a general feeling that while she may be competent a new person should be appointed to bring new energy and ideas in the running of the Organization.
5.3 KEBS 019 decoded as John Mtuta Mruttu scored 64%. Like KEBS 039, this candidate has requested for a very high salary. He currently earns KShs.1,200,000 and indicated to the Board that he wished to have a 10% salary increase that would bring his pay to KShs.1,320,000. In addition, the candidate is aged 56 years and would be aged 59 years at the end of a standard three years contract. In an ideal situation the new M.D. should serve more than one term, this candidate would be aged 62 years at the end of two terms.
5.4 KEBS 011 decoded as Joseph Kipketer Koskey scored 62%. Although his score placed him at position four, the difference between him and the next best person is only 2 percentage points. Secondly his fourth place position, out of 74 applicants, was impressive and was due to what the Council members described as a strong financial track record in his previous employments. In addition, his youth, integrity and reasonable salary requirements were all positive attributes.
5.5 KEBS 025 decoded as Michael Ochieng Owino scored 57%. He came fifth in the scoring. However the difference between him and KEBS 011 was 5 percentage points and that between him and the highest scoring candidate was more than 10 percentage points.
6. At the end of my analysis I was guided by two points in order to make a decision.. These were:
6.1 The salary of the new Managing Director would have to be between KShs.500,000 and Kshs.750,000. This salary scale is in accordance with guidelines for State Corporations that are in the same range as KEBS. In addition the Council had already discussed and agreed on this salary scale and this fact is captured in the minutes of those meetings. Therefore taking the issue of the salary into consideration, I eliminated KEBS 039 and KEBS 019 as possible candidates for the appointment.
6.2 It would be ideal if the new Managing Director came from outside the Organization so as to bring fresh ideas in the management of KEBS. This wish had also been expressed by the Council and is captured in the minutes of their meetings. Therefore, using this criterion, I eliminated KEBS 016 as a possible candidate for the appointment.
7. After eliminating KEBS 039, KEBS 016 and KEBS 019, I concluded that the next best candidate was KEBS 011, Joseph Kipketer Koskey. I therefore issued Legal Notice number 11901, appointing him as the Managing Director of the Kenya Bureau of Standards. The Legal Notice was published in the Kenya Gazette on 8th October 2010.
8. It is important to note that this appointment is within procedure as the law allows the Minister to use his discretion in making appointments. Further, the appointment was made from among the candidates who applied, were interviewed and shortlisted and in accordance with recommendations made by a majority of the national Standards Council.
9. It is also important to note that the allegations of tribalism have no basis whatsoever. Firstly the identify of all the applicants was not known to any party until the process was concluded and the names were decoded. Secondly, as the analysis above shows, Joseph Kipketer Koskey is a capable man who achieved a high score in the interview process and does indeed merit the appointment. It is not fair that he be excluded simply because he comes from the same ethnic background as the Minister.
10. In making my decision, I was also guided by the fact that the position of the KEBS M.D. has remained vacant for over 1 year. The current M.D. has been in office in acting capacity during this period. The law does not permit a Managing Director to remain in office in an acting capacity for more than 6 months. I therefore made my decision with a view to ensuring compliance with the law.
11. Finally, I believe that I have acted in the best interests of my Ministry and that of the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
(Mr Kosgey is the Minister for Industrialisation)