Back in 2015 I submitted a Freedom of Information request for USAID records relating to the election assistance through IFES for Kenya’s IEBC (the election commission).
Over 1000 pages were sent from the Mission in Kenya to the USAID FOIA office more than 30 months ago. A year ago I finally got the first release, simply a heavily redacted copy of the Cooperative Agreement itself funding the program.
I have just recently gotten the second release, the first substantive tranche of redacted copies from among the underlying documents. From this interim release I am starting to learn some information about the procurement of the failed Results Transmission System, but that matter remains somewhat sketchy so far.
[Update: to clarify, this second interim release under my request covered 426 pages including redactions; based on what I was told by the original reviewer in the USAID FOIA office I am guessing I have received redacted versions of perhaps one third or so of the document pages initially sent to Washington from Nairobi in response to my request. As I receive additional releases I will carry this story forward here at “AFRICOMMONS”.]
Sadly I did see that IFES staff reported to USAID in the aftermath of the vote that they were busy working on the defense of the Supreme Court petition which impacted their availability to address questions about the systems issues.
I also learned that the election assistance donors were discussing amongst themselves the extent to which the UNDP, which administered “basket funding” for the election should cooperate with an investigative inquiry regarding procurements from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
I did learn that one prospective bidder for one Results Transmission System procurement reported to the USAID Mission December 2012 that the allowed time for proposals was insufficient, to no avail as USAID said the impending election date did not allow delay.
When I consulted with AfriCOG, the Kenyan civil society organization, on election observation, and court petitions were filed seeking first to enjoin the IEBC from proceeding with an informal/irregular alleged vote tally when the Results Transmission System failed, and then after the IEBC went ahead, to challenge the alleged results, I did not know the Results Transmission System was a U.S. Government procurement under the Agreement, nor of direct involvement of IFES in supporting the other side in the litigation.
At this point, I am not going to blog very actively on current Kenyan politics after all these years, but will continue to report on these matters of unfinished business as I learn more. [For one thing, it has been too long since I have lived in Kenya now to expect to realistically stay well informed given the “active opacity” of elite politics in Kenya; for another, it seems to me that we have re-entered a period of dominant party hegemony along the lines of the 1992-2002 period, which is quite a different paradigm than existed when I was involved in democracy assistance.]