The Shining Star

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Dr. Cissy Kityo (Photo: Julius Kasujja)

Dr. Cissy Kityo

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Dr. Cissy Kityo first joined the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) as a young clinician, and she still continues to examine some of the same patients today, despite now serving as the Deputy Executive Director of JCRC. Set just off of the Kampala-Entebbe Road near the Lubowa suburb of Kampala, Uganda, JCRC delivers essential HIV/AIDS clinical services, houses advanced laboratory equipment, and conducts research on HIV/AIDS care and treatment for Uganda and other sub-Saharan countries.

Just as JCRC’s daily work reflects the full breadth of the organization’s clinical, laboratory, and research departments, so too does Dr. Cissy’s typical day. “Almost on a daily basis there will be different aspects of the research I am addressing… on a Friday I will be in a meeting with the research team to review what is happening, but if I am not in a meeting, I may have to sign off on certain documents… I may have to review reports from projects, but I might also be writing as part of the writing team for a new research project, for new opportunities that are coming up...” says Dr. Cissy, “ it’s a lot of things…”

In recent years JCRC’s scope and mandate has shifted rapidly, but the organization’s management systems did not keep up, that meant JCRC faced management challenges that hampered their ability to deliver services at peak efficiency; but partnering with the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project helped bring “marked improvements,” according to Dr. Cissy, “in many different aspects and departments.” The LMG Project conducted an organizational capacity assessment to identify areas of improvement within the organization, and then supported leaders at JCRC to develop and implement an action plan.

For Dr. Cissy, “the shining star” of the improvements at JCRC is the financial management system. Working with the LMG Project, JCRC’s Finance Department revised their financial manuals to reflect daily operations and responsibilities, provided financial management training for non-finance managers so they could better manage financial reports and track budgets, and upgraded the organization’s financial management software.

These changes have “improved financial management of different accounts… also there is a system for reporting, and when that system is finally linked to the other systems... we can very quickly help the finance team.” This means real-time invoicing and budget management across the organization and departments. Discussing her newfound access, Dr. Cissy explains why she feels confident when accessing financial information to make decisions, “From my desk, I can also see what is happening, and I think that is very crucial. Instead of leaving the finance team to report to management on a quarterly basis, I can monitor more closely day to day and see what is happening.”

When JCRC submits proposals for new grants, it is not odd for donors to inquire about financial management practices. “Recently we had a grant for the National Council for Science and Technology, and they said, ‘we must first come and review your financial management system, before we disburse the money.’ If they come and find that you are organized… that you have clear systems for tracking expenses, for managing donor funding... it means more trust in the institution.”