Heads of procurement and accounting units in ministries, departments, agencies and State corporations were directed to step aside with immediate effect.
“Before they vacate the office, they have also been instructed to hand over to their immediate deputies,” read a circular signed by Mwenda Njoka for Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe.
The affected officers are required to submit their personal information to the office of the Head of Public Service by Friday. The information includes their assets, liabilities and previous records of service.
The 30-day compulsory leave is timed to coincide with the timeline the President gave for conclusion of vetting of targeted public officials before the start of the new financial year in July.
Avoid fake news! Subscribe to the Standard SMS service and receive factual, verified breaking news as it happens. Text the word 'NEWS' to 22840
The decision triggered panic among suppliers who feared delays in payment given the crucial roles the chief officers play.
“The officers will however not be prejudiced. They will get their salaries, but will only travel on clearance by the Head of Public Service,” said the presidency on Twitter.
The circular assured the affected officers of fair vetting.
“Whereas the exercise is geared towards determining suitability to continue holding public office in public trust and promote confidence in the public service, the same will be undertaken in a fair and objective manner, exercised with due care and regard for officer’s rights as enshrined in the Constitution.”
It also noted that the President was committed to creating a public service that served the needs and aspirations of Kenyans without taking undue advantage of their offices to enrich or otherwise benefit themselves.
“Further to the President’s directive, the office of the Head of Public Service has issued a circular to the entire public service giving guidelines on fresh vetting for certain categories of public servants,” read the circular.
Mr Njoka, who is the Ministry of Interior Communications Director, explained that in a ministry with three State departments, a total of six officers would be affected.
In 2003, months after the Narc government headed by President Mwai Kibaki came to power, 1,000 procurement officers were sent home.
Departments that were centralised under the Ministry of Finance were decentralised, with every ministry and department getting its own unit.
In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the transfers of all procurement and finance staff in the Office of the President - a decision that affected 100 officers - saying it had become a den of corruption.
In his Madaraka Day speech, the head of State said the officials would undergo fresh vetting, including polygraph testing, to determine their integrity and suitability.
The President warned that those who failed the vetting would be suspended. He further directed that the exercise be concluded before the start of the new financial year.
Uhuru said the war against corruption must be fought and won by all.
“We must, with a sense of great urgency, destroy and eliminate corruption to have no place in my administration."