Jean Mensa – EC Chairperson
The Electoral Commission (EC) has upgraded its data system as part of an overhauling exercise of the elections management body, the Chairperson of the commission, Mrs. Jean Mensa, has announced.
Mrs. Mensa said this when she called on President Akufo-Addo as part of an ongoing meeting with stakeholders of the electoral system.
She said the ongoing overhauling of the commission had been necessitated by the non-functioning of some key departments and obsolete systems.
Throwing more light on the new technology, she recalled how the EC last year invited an European Union recommended biometric consultant from Canada, whom she said spent 10 days working on the subject.
The view of the consultant, she said, was since technology is an evolving phenomenon there was the need to respond to the reality.
According to her, the consultant recommended a modern user friendly technology – both software and hardware – that would cost less than what the EC used to pay to a foreign vendor for a similar exercise.
Continuing, she indicated that the new software would cost between $30 million and $56 million, which she said was an upgrade.
“It was just to upgrade a data centre and it entails changing batteries here and there, among other things,” she added.
The biggest challenge that confronted EC new managers since assuming office was the effect of the very weak state of the commission, she pointed out.
The EC, in the state she took over, was an institution “not founded on rules; it was not founded on administrative policies and it didn’t have a governance framework.”
According to her, “We came to office and what we found was that we do not even have a single policy to guide procurement, to guide finance, to guide HR, to guide administration; nothing existed.”
“So in a nutshell, the commission existed as some sort of an election machine and over the year we’ve spent quite a lot of effort trying to pluck the loopholes to the best of our knowledge and to the best of our ability; it’s been run as a free for all sort of institution to date…you’d find staff who have been in the same for 15-17 years without promotion,” he noted with worry.
Since assuming office, she said “we’ve tried to the best of our ability to come up with some policies and guidelines to structure and to regulate our operations.” KPMG is working on an institutional assessment for the commission, she added.
“We are pleased to note that we’ve done all the promotions; we’ve gone around the country; we’ve undertaken promotions and there is boost in morale currently within the staff,” she disclosed.
Mrs. Mensa said “currently, we have a clear direction of the institution … what each department is meant to do; so we have a governing framework of a sort that regulates our activities.”
The EC, she said, does not have standard departments such as legal. The existing ones are weak and in some such as the procurement there are only a few staff members. “You go into procurement; if you look at the level of our procurement, running into millions of cedis, we just had a two-member staff…so we are recruiting with the assistance of KPMG, setting up a Legal Department, a Public Affairs Department among others and basically strengthening capacity, bringing on board new staff in the area of IT.”
She told the President that the EC under her and her commissioners is robust and ready to take on the assignments required of it.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent