Do Boards of Directors of public agencies play their oversight role?

Editor, RE: “WASAC on the spot over undocumented spending” (The New Times, September 26). As our noble public watchdog, the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee starts its proceedings, it’s my opinion that we need to rethink the role of Boards of Directors (BoDs) in the corporate governance of our public institutions
WASAC officials appear before PAC. (File)
WASAC officials appear before PAC. (File)

Editor,

RE:WASAC on the spot over undocumented spending” (The New Times, September 26).

 

As our noble public watchdog, the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee starts its proceedings, it’s my opinion that we need to rethink the role of Boards of Directors (BoDs) in the corporate governance of our public institutions

 

Note that BoDs are approved by Cabinet which underscores the critical nature of this role. Corporate governance is about the structures and processes for decision making and accountability. Therefore, corporate governance is the check and balance needed to address the lack of control in senior management decisions in organisations. BoDs bring in independent oversight, strategic planning and brought in on major corporate decisions.

 

To this end the Chief Executive Office/DG of institutions is accountable to the BoD for financial accountability, human resource practices, organisation assets management etc. A BoD ideally should meet twice in a year to review performance based on an agreed scorecard.

The BoD could also follow up on the Auditor-General recommendations exerting positive pressure on the senior management to conform/correct where needed.

Firstly, there is a need for an official guide on the roles and responsibilities of BoD in public institutions. Ideally this should be Mifotra’s (Ministry of Public Service and Labour) responsibility. If such a guide is available, BoDs need to be familiarised and trained extensively on its use.

I do believe Rwanda public institutions are around 100 or so, so there is quite a number of work to be done here. The Auditor-General’s offoce in its annual audits could include this aspect as an audit to ensure that BoDs met accordingly, minutes are taken and documented, and recommendations implemented.

This could go a long way in tightening some of these issues that clearly don’t have to wait for AG to point them out for correction.

MG

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