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Nigeria: Census Methodologies

(extracted from case study)

The methodology involved questionnaires, physical head count, preparation of comprehensive nominal rolls, scanning photographs and using file numbers to locate the relevant individuals, compiling actual personnel costs and calculating personnel costs based on head counts as reflected in the nominal roll.

A program-facilitating meeting was held to analyze the different tasks involved in the audit exercise. Afterwards, familiarization visits were made to the headquarters of the agencies where preliminary information was obtained. There were meetings with permanent secretaries where the objectives of the exercise were discussed. Subsequently, directors of personnel management mapped out ways and means of achieving the objectives of counting staff.

University graduate auditors were employed and given training on practical data collection, spreadsheet preparation, simple evaluation of staff payroll records and psychological questioning. The audit staff were deployed in adequate numbers to each state covered by the exercise.

A special instructional guide was prepared to elicit relevant data from the field. The guide contained a step-by-step approach required by auditors in eliciting the required information. The guide also included the formats of the nominal role and the personnel emoluments records.

The field data was captured in two main spreadsheets, the nominal roll and the accounting record spreadsheets. The nominal roll and the accounting records were processed using Microsoft Excel software. Recent color passport photographs were collected from each worker and scanned. Each photograph was then assigned a unique image file number. The image file number was recorded in the nominal roll so as to facilitate easy access to the photograph of each member of staff when required. The same software was used for the accounting records prepared in matrices showing the total gross personal emoluments of all staff between January 1997 and June 2000.

There were two main computer programs designed for the project. The first concerned the reconciliation of pertinent facts for a given member of staff in relation to four data sources:

  • the employment or personnel file
  • the personnel emoluments records
  • the payroll of the Ministry or extra-ministerial department
  • pre-audit questionnaires.

The aim was to compare the audit results with existing data and to identify areas of, and reasons for, variance.

The staff appeared in groups before a panel of auditors. Each was required to appear with his or her employment file, which contained, or should have contained relevant documents that showed that he or she was a bona fide employee. The file was intended to serve as a control, and an effort was made to match the facts in the file and those on the completed questionnaires.

The second computerized program was developed to reconcile the photographs with the other records. The images were linked to the personnel file numbers.

During the interviews, staff were questioned about the facts in the file as well as in the questionnaire in order to authenticate the information provided. The interviews were conducted in the open so that other staff members could corroborate the information supplied by the interviewee.

Staff Audit Exercise

The consultants worked in two teams of approximately fifteen consultants each. Each team was co-ordinated by a managing consultant under the overall supervision of the Ministry of Establishments and Management Services (MEMS). The total exercise entailed several hundred audit staff visiting federal government offices throughout the country. It was not a sample survey, but a full head count, planned on an expected Federal Civil Service size of around 240,000. It covered all the ministries and extra-ministerial departments of the Federal Government, but excluded the armed forces, commercial and sub-vented parastatals. Effectively, it embraced all the organizations where payrolls were funded with personal emoluments allocations in the Federal Government budget. In terms of total Federal Government public employees, the staff audit covered about 45%.

The process started with MEMS providing the consultants with a list of all Federal Government establishments in both Abuja and the states. Each location was sent a supply of standard forms for every member of staff to complete. The forms captured basic details, comprising:

  • name
  • sex
  • designation
  • qualification
  • grade level/step
  • personnel file number
  • date of birth
  • date of first appointment
  • date of confirmation of appointment
  • date of present appointment
  • department
  • location
  • state of origin
  • local government
  • remarks
  • image file number.

The consultants were equipped with a letter from the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation requiring cooperation. On the day of the physical head count, which coincided with pay day, staff was asked to line up and present their forms, together with a colored photograph and their personal file. The forms were then checked against the information on file and signed off by the staff's supervisor. Disparities and suspect submissions were noted, and the data were transferred to a spread sheet. In addition, information on pay was entered on to a second spreadsheet, cross-checking the forms with the departmental personnel emolument cards for each staff member.

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