Kenya: SRC On the Spot Over Lack of Data Back-Up

Data held by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) runs the risk of being lost after it emerged that the commission does not have an offsite back-up and disaster recovery centre.

The lack of this crucial storage facility since 2012 when the commission was inaugurated, has forced its directors to carry to their homes every day huge hard disks each valued at Sh15,000, as back-up.

The matter has been flagged by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu in her report on the audited accounts of SRC for the financial year 2019/20.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly that is considering the audit report was at a loss yesterday over the delays in setting up the storage facility.

This after the commission's chief executive, Ms Anne Gitau, admitted that the lack of funds to finance the storage facility had left the commission with no alternative but to have its senior staff carry the huge disks home.

"The commission has not acquired and commissioned the recovery site. However, the commission allows every director to go home with large disks as back-up," Ms Gitau told the committee.

SRC is the custodian of all remuneration information for public and state officers in the country.

The audit report notes that the commission had started engagements with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) with the objective of securing the recovery site but no formal agreement had been signed as at June 30, 2020.

State-of-the-art storage facility

This could be an indication that the taxman was not interested in the overtures.

"The commission is at risk of information loss in the event of a disaster at its premises," Ms Gathungu warns in the audit report.

SRC has been seeking Sh100 million from the National Treasury to put up the state-of-the-art storage facility.

But with the failure to avail the funds, SRC sought a temporary facility that was to cost a Sh5 million one-off payment for hosting rights and Sh3 million annually in cloud licenses.

However, her response did not go down well with committee chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and members Aden Duale (Garissa Township), Joseph Nduati (Gatanga) and Dr Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren).

Mr Wandayi wondered why the commission has not taken the urgency to have the storage facility commissioned almost 10 years since the it was inaugurated.

"So you want to convince this committee that your officers will continue to carry the disks to 2022 when you hope to get funds from the National Treasury," Mr Wandayi said.

"The public expects SRC to be continually innovative and think outside the box and not lament," the Ugunja MP added.

Custodian of remuneration information

SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich assured the committee that the storage facility is a matter the commission has taken seriously.

"We have been sourcing for money, but we have not been successful," Ms Mengich told the committee, but Mr Duale was not convinced.

"This commission is the custodian of data for all state and public officers. You cannot tell us that since 2012 when the commission was inaugurated, it has no such vital storage facility. You don't seem to have the urgency to have it installed," said Mr Duale.

Mr Ngugi accused the commission of treating the matter "casually."

Ms Gitau explained that SRC has since requested for funding to be factored in the 2022/23 budget.

She also told the MPs that failure to get the support of KRA has seen the commission start engagements with the ICT Ministry.

"We are thinking of going to the private sector. Every year we have been doing reminders, but they haven't come back to us," the SRC CEO noted.

Ms Gitau told the MPs that upon confirmation of the funding, it is envisaged that the recovery facility will be operational by 2024.

dmwere@ke.nationmedia.com

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