The Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) is the state agency responsible for the day to day functioning of the National and County Government Coordinating Summit (the Summit) and the Council of County Governors (CoG). By law, it is charged with the responsibility of facilitating the activities of the Summit and CoG, as well as implementing the decisions of the two bodies. With the expiry of the term of the Transition Authority (TA) on March 4, 2015, IGRTC took over the residual functions of the TA. The IGRTC and its Secretariat are, in effect, not only the technical secretariat of the Summit but also the intermediary between both levels of government to facilitate effective and harmonious devolved governance through the promotion of consultation and cooperation.
It was established in the fifth year of the implementation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 (CoK 2010) and the third year of the implementation of the system of devolved government established by the Constitution. Before the establishment of IGRTC, many steps had been taken in implementing the new system of government, based on constitutional requirements, policy dialogue, legislative acts and administrative decisions. Although the epochal moment in the transition to devolved governments was the March 2013 General Election, the new structures that came into being had their foundations in guidance formulated earlier by the Taskforce on Devolved Government, enabling legislation passed by the 10th Parliament and administrative actions implemented by the Grand Coalition Government (2008 – 2013).
The Taskforce on Devolved Government advised that devolved governance be implemented in three major phases. Phase One was proposed to take place before the 2013 General Election. It was proposed to comprise decisions on staffing, assets, budgets, data and civic education in order to ensure continuity of service delivery in the transition phase. Phase Two, planned to take place after the general elections, and was to comprise assumption of office; institutional capacity building; asset divestitures to the new County Governments; staff redeployments; transfer of powers and functions; monitoring and re-adjustment; and continuing civic education necessary to smoothly implement the new system of governance. Phase Three would be implemented after the first two phases and would comprise further assignment and transfer of functions; capacity building and support for county governments; and development and coordination of policies between the national and county governments. Work in all the three phases was to be overseen by the now defunct Transition Authority (TA), established to midwife the transition to devolved governance.
The defunct CIC had the duty, amongst others, of monitoring the implementation of the system of devolved governance by ensuring that all the laws enacted conformed to the Constitution. CIC’s other responsibilities, such as providing guidance on law making, have been transferred to other government agencies like the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC). This is as it should be, given that the constitutional transition required organs and entities that would deliver change within a given transitional period.
In terms of a legal framework, the Intergovernmental Relations Act of 2012 is the enabling legislation for the work of IGRTC. In addition to this Act, Parliament has enacted six key laws that give effect to a devolved system of governance to facilitate the implementation of devolution. These are the County Governments Act of 2012; the Public Finance Management Act of 2012; the Transition to Devolved Government Act of 2012; the Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2011; the National Government Coordination Act of 2013; and, more recently, the National Government Constituencies Development Fund Act of 2015. All of these laws together provide the architecture and legal framework for devolution and intergovernmental relations in Kenya.
On the policy front, the Draft Sessional Paper on the Devolved System of Government that was developed by the Ministry of Local Government with input from the Taskforce on Devolved Government is still undergoing consultations under the leadership of the Team on Devolution Policy. When complete, and adopted by Parliament, it will provide the necessary policy framework for successful implementation of devolved government. IGRTC is involved in these consultations and will be a critical institution in the implementation of the resultant Policy going forward.
Successful implementation of devolved government is at the core of Kenya’s quest for development in the years to come. Devolution is at the heart of Kenya’s future progress, both economically and socially. First, the new county governments, in cooperation with the National Government, are intended to promote the country’s economic development through county-based investments whose cumulative economic contribution has national effects. Secondly, by delivering services within their assigned functions, the county governments are a critical part of the country’s framework for social development. Harmonious intergovernmental relations, and successful transition to devolved governance, will therefore provide the enabling environment and institutional cooperation for the country as a whole to reap a “devolution dividend” from this new system of government.
Kenya’s national development agenda is encapsulated in the Country’s long-term development blueprint, Kenya Vision 2030. Its over-arching vision is a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life by 2030. Its strategy is hinged on three pillars, each with a goal. The goal of the economic pillar is to maintain a sustained economic growth of 10% per annum over the next 25 years. The social pillar aims for a just and cohesive society enjoying equitable social development in a clean and secure environment. The political pillar’s goal is issue-based, people-centered, result-oriented, and accountable democratic political system. Kenya Vision 2030 has, in turn, been translated into 5-year medium term plans to guide its implementation. Detailed sector plans drive development activity, whose funding is mobilized through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). MTEF is intended to ensure effective linkages between policy, planning and budgeting. The fact that the country’s development is county-based brings to the fore the importance of harmonious intergovernmental relations, since absence of harmonious intergovernmental relations would hamper the achievement of development goals.