The functions of the Public Service Commission in Kenya are important in managing public service. The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 reconstituted the Commission with a redefined and expanded mandate and a lean membership.
“Public Service” means the collectivity of all individuals, other than State officers, performing a function within a State organ.
Article 233 of the Kenyan Constitution establishes the Public Service Commission. The Public Service Commission consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and seven other members appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly.
A person is not eligible for appointment as a member of the Public Service Commission if the person
- has, at any time within the preceding five years, held office, or stood for election as- (i) a member of Parliament or of a county assembly; or (ii) a member of the governing body of a political party; or
- holds any State office;
- is, or has at any time been, a candidate for election as a member of Parliament or of a county assembly; or
- is, or has at any time been, the holder of an office in any political organisation that sponsors or otherwise supports, or has at any time sponsored or otherwise supported, a candidate for election as a member of Parliament or of a county assembly.
The last two clauses above cease to apply to a person after two general elections for Parliament have been held since the person ceased to be such a candidate or officeholder.
There should be a secretary to the Commission who is the chief executive of the Commission. The person should be appointed by the Commission for a term of five years and is eligible for re-appointment once.
Functions of the Public Service Commission
Article 234 of the Kenyan Constitution sets out the powers and functions of the Public Service Commission in Kenya as follows:
- subject to the Constitution and legislation–– (i) establish and abolish offices in the public service; and (ii) appoint persons to hold or act in those offices, and to confirm appointments;
- exercise disciplinary control over and remove persons holding or acting in those offices;
- promote the values and principles referred to in Articles 10 and 232 throughout the public service;
- investigate, monitor and evaluate the organisation, administration and personnel practices of the public service;
- ensure that the public service is efficient and effective;
- develop human resources in the public service;
- review and make recommendations to the national government in respect of conditions of service, code of conduct and qualifications of officers in the public service;
- evaluate and report to the President and Parliament on the extent to which the public service complies with the values and principles referred to in Articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution;
- hear and determine appeals in respect of county governments’ public service; and
- perform any other functions and exercise any other powers conferred by national legislation.
The first two clauses above should not apply to any of the following offices in the public service––
- State offices;
- an office of the high commissioner, ambassador or other diplomatic or consular representative of the Republic;
- an office or a position subject to- (i) the Parliamentary Service Commission; (ii) the Judicial Service Commission; (iii) the Teachers Service Commission; (iv) the National Police Service Commission; or
- an office in the service of a county government, except as contemplated in clause (i) above (establish and abolish offices in the public service).
Powers of the Public Service Commission
The powers of the Public Service Commission in Kenya are under the Public Service Commission Act. The Commission has power to—
- issue summons as may be necessary for the fulfilment of its mandate;
- require that statements be given under oath or affirmation and to administer such oath or affirmation;
- obtain, by lawful means, information it considers relevant, including requisition of reports, records, documents and any information from a person, including public bodies, and to compel the production of such information for the proper discharge of its functions;
- interview a person or group of persons;
- call upon a person to meet with the Commission or its staff, or to attend a session of the Commission subject to the adequate provision being made to meet the expenses for that purpose;
- compel the attendance of a person who fails to respond to a request of the Commission to appear before the Commission and to answer questions relevant to the subject matter of the session or hearing;
- acquire, hold, charge and dispose of movable and immovable property;
- conduct audits in a public institution except those institutions excluded under Article 234 (3) of the Constitution, in order to establish the level of compliance of such institutions with the values and principles in Articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution;
- require any public institution to provide a special report on matters relating to the institution’s compliance with the values and principles in Articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution; and
- do or perform all such other things or acts for the proper discharge of its functions under the Constitution, this Act and any written law as may lawfully be done or performed by a body corporate.
For more about the functions of the Public Service Commission in Kenya, including how its members are appointed, see the PSC Act and visit publicservice.go.ke.