It is not very difficult to see what is going on: the highest office of the Land and its occupant has become a shield preventing deeper probing into strange misallocations and misspending running into tens of millions of dollars at the heart of government. How did this happen?

Firstly, an overload of good intentions. The justification for this amorphous structure was provided by the Presidency in 2014 to Parliament as follows: “The Office of Government Machinery comprises the Office of the President as the seat of Government, the National Security Council Secretariat and agencies under it, the 10 offices of the Regional Co-ordinating Councils, including the Regional Budget Offices and some organisations which do not fall under the existing sectoral delineations, and have therefore, been placed under the Presidency for the supervision and coordination of their work.”

The first thing to notice is a lack of both imagination and rigour. If something doesn’t fit neatly into what is called a “sectoral delineation”, then the thinking is: dump it at the Presidency. The second thing to notice is that there is no institutional coherence in all this. No thinking has gone into how best to maintain efficiency in this random, tossup, salad. Thirdly, incongruity. Why should regional coordinating councils not be coordinated and managed by the Ministry of Local Government (or whatever its latest name is) or the National Security Council Secretariat hosted by the Ministry of National Security? The fact that there are inter-agency factors does not mean that facilities and personnel cannot be hosted within a well-defined institutional home, like a Ministry. Such ‘hosting’ is common in governments around the world that deal with sophisticated inter-agency affairs all the time.

There is absolutely no reason why within its existing budget the Ministry of Education cannot take care of the Scholarships Secretariat, or why the Ministry of Information cannot assume responsibility for the National Archives. Why should the MASLOC, with its puny microfinance program, be placed under the Presidency?

Due to this confusing mashup, we today have the Presidency of Ghana currently involved in supervising poultry farmers in the sale of eggs, distributing fishing nets, and promoting condoms, all at highly inflated costs!

It is not surprising that some of the biggest scandals we have seen took place in agencies locked in this OGM structure, such as SADA.

To tame this runaway OGM horse before it leaves the stable, the following actions are critical:

1. Immediately take steps to rationalize the agencies placed within this poorly coordinated structure and reduce the number of entities reporting directly to the President to the bare minimum. Many of the mandates can be aligned with Ministerial mandates and placed in tighter reporting systems within the Ministries.

2. Outline plans and strategies to reverse the practice of overspending and establish key indicators that the public can hold government agencies accountable to.Reasons for any overspending should be clearly explained in audit reports which should be timely and available to the public.

3. Implement an institutional audit to remove redundancies like the Ghana AIDs Commission, whose role can fit cleanly within existing infectious disease programs at the Ministry of Health. The institutional audit should be followed by a financial restructuring with the aim of saving $50 million by 2018. With competitive procurement and a dedicated financial management system across the leaner remnant of the reformed OGM, 40% of the OGM budget in the last financial year can be shaved off.

4. To galvanise the political will for these drastic reforms, radical transparency is required. The government should proceed to publish the contracts awarded in the various units within the Presidency and redact only the sections of national security contracts of proven sensitivity.

The beautiful thing about implementing these recommendations is that benefits shall be evident within 100 days from January 7th, 2017, and considerable fiscal impact would be felt well ahead of the 18-month timeline for other government expenditure reforms across the government and the work of the Special Prosecutor to start showing results. What could be more urgent in the President’s in-tray than this?