The impact of automation as a structural change strategy on customs clearing procedures at Kenya Revenue Authority
The purpose of this study was to establish the impact of automation on clearance procedures in the customs service department of the KRA. The basis of the problem regarding the impact of automation on processes that the research study aimed to explore is discussed based on the following research objectives: to establish whether automation has resulted to efficient service delivery at the customs service department, to establish if automation has led to skills improvement of staff working at Kenya Revenue Authority and other stakeholders; what impact the improved skills have had on performance at the customs department, to establish if automation has brought about improvement in effectiveness of customs clearance procedures, to establish if automation of customs clearance procedures has resulted in cost saving, to establish if automation has improved governance in the customs department. In the year 2005, KRA-Customs Services Department deployed the simba customs system (formerly known as GAINDE 2000), as a turnaround strategy in management of customs operations- clearing of cargo at Kenya's entry points. Unlike the boffin IT system, the simba system supports Direct Trader Input, allows for cross-departmental information sharing and has an intelligence and risk-based selectivity. The application is a web-based system with a centralized relational database. Kenya Revenue Authority applied organic change management model in the implementation of automation of customs procedures. 'Case studies on customs modernization initiatives have been carried out in the past in other developing countries: Bolivia, Chana, Morocco, Mozambique, Peru, the Phillipines, Turkey and Uganda. The objectives of these studies were to obtain a first hand view of how these countries undertook customs reforms and to assess their success. Experiences from Ghana, Philippines and ~orocco as cited by the World Bank in a report done in 2004 (Customs modernization) initiatives have shown that the automated customs procedures have ensured that data required by different bodies are centralized and easily accessible by all the relevant bodies. The systems implemented in these countries in mid 1990's yielded substantial gain in the effectiveness of the customs procedures (International Monetary Fund, 2003). The systems provided adequate data for customs officers to make speedy and informed decisions, a network linking all users of the system and simplification of the customs procedures. To meet the objectives of this study, a case study survey was chosen. The target population of the study consisted oflicensed customs clearing agents. Respondents of the study involved 101 licensed customs clearing agents based in Nairobi and Mombasa. Interview guides were used to collect data from the agents. Quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques were used to analyze the data. The findings emerging from the analysis were used to compile this report. The research study concluded that with the introduction of the Trade X-Simba system in the customs department, there has been improved efficiency, improved effectiveness, improved staff skills, reduced costs and improved governance. Recommendations based on the findings of this study propose that the management of KRA consider the security of the system from manipulation, which is a major threat.