The Rwanda Parliament has pinned the Minister of Public Service and Labour over failure to implement a complete internal operation system which has cost the government over Rwf 2.6 billion but still has major challenges.
The Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) is a module system used by the ministry to determine salaries and manage recruitments and civil servants placements.
It was initiated in 2012 and was supposed to have 11 modules completed by December 2020. Furthermore, it was meant to put in place 11 governance modules to improve public services.
The intended modules were: Government payroll, Organisation structure and Contract Management, Career development, Discipline Management, Exit and Termination, Grievances, Leave and absence, Result based Management, e-Recruitment, Talent and Training.
However, the Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) report showed that so far only five modules have been developed which represents 45% of the work done; with 6 modules (on Career development, Discipline Management, Grievance, Leave and absence, Talent and Training) remaining non-functional.
Based on queries from the Auditor General’s reports, PAC chairman, MP Valens Muhakwa, asked when the ministry plans to have the IPPIS system project completed and running considering the time and money spent on it.
Muhakwa said that the system has no user manual and those who want to use it have to find a way out or even call the technicians responsible to help out.
He said there is lack of process documentation, which begs the question how the IPPIS is used without these documents.
Muhakwa also showed that the system has not put in place a change control board to monitor its processes.
“This means that there are changes made in the system without approval and we want to know why this board doesn’t exist as planned in the project,” Muhakwa said.
The committee also showed that the ministry doesn’t have a track record of the amount of donor funding (from World Bank and DFID) injected into the projects since 2010, thus asking how long and how much will it take to have the project completely functional.
Despite the existence of functional modules, the committee also critically asked why other 123 government projects have not been integrated into the IPPIS system to smoothen implementation of government activities.
“After the indicated queries, we would like to know how the ministry plans on mitigating further losses the government has incurred in this project,” Muhakwa asked.
The Minister of Labour, Fanfan Kayirangwa Rwanyindo who was this October 26, 2021 summoned in parliament to verbally explain the loopholes in the system and why it is not being used to full productive capacity acknowledged the challenges but showed some progress in some functions.
Rwanyindo said that the delays have been caused by new challenges surfacing in each of the modules developed.
“Every time we develop a new module to be used by government entities, we encounter issues which are seen at implementation,” Rwanyindo said.
She explained that the hard task has been to make the modules user friendly.
“We managed to solve this by transferring the system from desktop to web-based which means one can access it everywhere on the internet,” Rwanyindo said, however MPs questioned how it is possible that the so-called web based system is not applicable to all browsers such as Safari.
The minister explained that they had pressure to increase modules and were compelled to use local IT expertise (IT experts and students).
Rwanyindo said that for example e-recruitment and e-salary payments have now been made faster and easier to access, with many civil servants now receiving their salaries on time or entering into the system to view their applications and file an appeal on the recruitment system thus reducing corruption in employment.
MP Christine Bakundufite, like many lawmakers, was not content with the slow pace of completing the IPPIS project, fearing that there was lack of planning and strategy in the first place.
“Why do we have few modules, what are we losing as a government since the whole package was to be in place. Why didn’t you put it in phases since it was evident that it couldn’t be implemented in a single phase?” Bakundufite asked.
MP Pie Nizeyimana asked where the value for money is in this project which has taken over Rwf2billion but the output is a disaster.
“I think that using Rwandans as IT experts could be a problem and take more money or maybe it is a problem of governance in the project,” Nizeyimana said.
The Parliament tasked the minister to go back on the drawing table to find ways of accelerating the implementation and completion of IPPIS system.