Parliamentary Service Commission under the New Constitution
Open. Accountable. Responsible
The PSC is a Commission under the Constitution of Kenya 2010's Chapter 15 with full status and powers of a Commission.
To develop and administer the structures and personnel in the Parliamentary Service.
The Commission will be led by the Speaker of the National Assembly and a vice-Chair, and ten others, two of whom will not be members of the two August Houses.
As its name suggests, the Parliamentary Service Commission PSC, will basically form and run the bureaucratic administration of both the National Assembly and the Senate of the Republic of Kenya. As a Commission, the PSC is expected to provide a certain level of checks and balances on Parliament i.e., (a) protect the sovereignty of the people; (b) secure the observance by all State organs of democratic values and principles; and (c) promote constitutionalism (Article 249). In other words, the people of Kenya have delegated power to the PSC to see to it that both Houses of Parliament do what they are supposed to do. Excerpts from Chapter 8 - The Legislature, Article 127:
127. (6) The Commission is responsible for— (d) undertaking, singly or jointly with other relevant organisations, programmes to promote the ideals of parliamentary democracy; .......
The Parliamentary Service Commission is a constitutional Commission under the New Constitution. Excerpts from Chapter 8 - The Legislature, Article 127:
127. (1) There is established the Parliamentary Service Commission.
248. (2) The commissions are— (d) the Parliamentary Service Commission;
Roles and Functions
As we stated earlier, the PSC will run the administrative bureaucracy of the two Houses of Parliament. The PSC will thus be expected to design the structures and terms of service, recruit, deploy and supervise the staff numbers in the legislative bureaucracy. Excerpts:
127. (6) The Commission is responsible for— (b) constituting offices in the parliamentary service, and appointing and supervising office holders; (e) performing other functions— (i) necessary for the well-being of the members and staff of Parliament; .......
128. (1) There shall be a Clerk for each House of Parliament, appointed by the Parliamentary Service Commission .......
(2) The offices of the Clerks and offices of members of the staff of the Clerks shall be offices in the Parliamentary Service.
The PSC's bureaucracy is therefore a fully-fledged secretariat designed to provide logistical and back-office support to the Members of Parliament, and plan for, control, manage and account for the revenues due, and expenditures of the two Houses:
(6) The Commission is responsible for— (a) providing services and facilities to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of Parliament; (c) preparing annual estimates of expenditure of the parliamentary service and submitting them to the National Assembly for approval, and exercising budgetary control over the service;
In line with Sub-Article (6) (a) above, the PSC oversees the important Parliamentary Budget Office, PBO that assists both Houses of Parliament and their Committees with "technical support on matters relating to Public Financial Management (PFM) and financial oversight ....... The PBO therefore helps in bridging the information gap in budgetary and economic matters in Parliament." (Parliament's Website, 2013).
Obviously, the PSC will closely liaise and consult with other independent bodies such as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission before setting the terms of service for its staff; with both the Director of Budget and the Auditor-General in preparing its budget controls and submitting its obligations to external audits respectively - an important feature of checks and balances on Parliament and on the Commission itself.
Composition and Tenure
Justin Muturi Chair of the Parliamentary Service Commission
The Parliamentary Service Commission is the only constitutional Commission whose chair is not appointed by the President. The Speaker of the National Assembly is the automatic chair of the PSC. The PSC is also perhaps the only Commission that should effortlessly fulfill the New Constitution's requirements for gender parity in the composition of its members, who number 12 as follows:
127. (2) The Commission consists of— (a) the Speaker of the National Assembly, as chairperson; (b) a vice-chairperson elected by the Commission from the members appointed under paragraph (c); (c) seven members appointed by Parliament from among its members of whom— (i) four shall be nominated equally from both Houses by the party or coalition of parties forming the national government, of whom at least two shall be women; and (ii) three shall be nominated by the parties not forming the national government, at least one of whom shall be nominated from each House and at least one of whom shall be a woman; and (d) one man and one woman appointed by Parliament from among persons who are experienced in public affairs, but are not members of Parliament.
(3) The Clerk of the Senate shall be the Secretary to the Commission.
The removal of a Commissioner from the PSC is straight forward. Basically, if a Commissioner MP looses their seat in Parliament under any circumstances, they give up their seat at the Commission. Similarly, a non-MP Commissioner may loose their seat at the Commission if Parliament revokes their membership say for gross misconduct:
(4) A member of the Commission shall vacate office— (a) if the person is a member of Parliament— (i) at the end of the term of the House of which the person is a member; or (ii) if the person ceases to be a member of Parliament; or (b) if the person is an appointed member, on revocation of the person’s appointment by Parliament.
1. Constitution of Kenya, 2010. National Council for Law Reporting. The Attorney-General.