Liberia Action Plan Review 2020-2022
- Action Plan: Liberia Action Plan 2020-2022
- Dates Under Review: 2020-2022
- Report Publication Year: 2021
This product consists of an IRM review of Liberia’s 2020-2022 action plan. The action plan is made up of 12 commitments that the IRM has filtered and clustered into 11. This review emphasizes its analysis on the strength of the action plan to contribute to implementation and results. For the commitment-by-commitment data see Annex 1. For details regarding the methodology and indicators used by the IRM for this Action Plan Review, see section III, Methodology and IRM Indicators.
Overview of the 2020-2022 Action Plan
Liberia’s fourth action plan continues ambitious reforms—including beneficial ownership transparency, open contracting, and whistleblower protections—that were not implemented in previous plans. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Liberia Secretariat sought to strengthen government ownership of these commitments. However, the Independent Report Mechanism (IRM) recommends responsible government agencies establish clear roadmaps and monitoring plans to address obstacles that have inhibited successful open government reforms and to deliver on Liberia’s ambitious aims.
|AT A GLANCE
Participating since: 2011
Action plan under review: 2020-2022
IRM product: Action Plan Review
Number of commitments: 12
Overview of commitments: 
Compliance with OGP minimum requirements for Co-creation:
Liberia’s fourth action plan contains 12 commitments, six of which were carried over from previous action plans. Continued commitments—such as those for beneficial ownership and open contracting—are ambitious, clear, and largely identical to previous versions. Yet these ambitious reforms had a low rate of implementation in preceding cycles. Therefore, achieving comprehensive implementation should be the Liberian multistakeholder forum’s focus moving forward.
This action plan was developed through a consultative process involving government officials, civil society, and citizens. A multistakeholder steering committee considered IRM recommendations and proposals from citizens, civil society organizations, and government officials. Four new commitments were selected from the proposals. These commitments concern an open government response to the COVID-19 crisis, prevention of gender-based violence, and youth civic participation.
During co-creation, the OGP Liberia Secretariat assigned a principal actor for each commitment. The Secretariat gave these actors the mandate and authority sufficient to ensure implementation. This constitutes important progress over the previous co-creation cycle.
However, other obstacles that blocked implementation in previous plans remain. Implementers should establish clear roadmaps and monitoring plans to ensure that each commitment meets its objective. For example, Commitment 4 (to enact the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Bill) has been unsuccessful and carried over for two action plans.
Another obstacle to implementation is a lack of alignment between the stated objective and listed activities in commitment design. For example, Commitment 5 (on open and inclusive contracting) highlights the challenges women face in participating in government procurement processes. However, it does not state how the commitment’s activities would improve women’s opportunities to participate in government procurement.
This review focuses on the four most promising commitments in Liberia’s fourth action plan. These commitments are ambitious, verifiable, and relevant to OGP values. Commitment 1 aims to establish a public beneficial ownership register across industries. Commitment 4 would significantly strengthen Liberia’s legal and institutional anticorruption framework, in part through the passage of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Bill. Commitment 5 would create a much-needed open contracting portal. Finally, Commitments 6 and 12 are clustered together, as they both aim to increase transparency and civic participation in Liberia’s healthcare system. Specifically, they seek to open the country’s COVID-19 response.
Promising Commitments in Liberia’s 2020-2022 Action Plan
The following review looks at the four commitment clusters that the IRM identified as having the potential to realize the most promising results. This review will inform the IRM’s research approach to assess implementation in the Results Report. The IRM Results Report will build on the early identification of potential results from this review to contrast with the outcomes at the end of the implementation period of the action plan. This review also provides an analysis of challenges, opportunities and recommendations to contribute to the learning and implementation process of this action plan.
Regarding the commitments not analyzed in-depth below, several (Commitments 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11) were assessed by the IRM as having modest potential for results. These commitments constitute positive steps forward but have moderate ambition. They largely focus on increased transparency through online portals, as opposed to broader reforms that could serve as game changers to the policy areas being addressed. However, implementation of these commitments can act as a springboard for more ambitious reforms in future action plans. Commitment 11 mainly constitutes a monitoring and evaluation roadmap for the action plan itself, which is important, given Liberia’s low implementation track record. However, the IRM will assess it as part of Liberia’s efforts to meet OGP procedural recommendations and guidelines, part of the Participation and Co-Creation Standards.
Two commitments, 7 and 10, as written in the action plan, begin to address pressing national issues. However, they are not analyzed below, as they are of moderate ambition and face especially significant implementation obstacles. Commitment 7 takes the vital step of creating a central database of bills for the legislature. However, it does not clearly identify the responsible authority within the national legislature that would ensure the implementation of the milestones. Additionally, very low rates of internet usages in Liberia mean that the register would not increase legislative transparency for most Liberians. Implementers should consider hard-copy, audio, and visual formats that are tailored to their audience in content, format, and language. Likewise, making public consultations standard practice for all bills would represent a more systematic reform.
Commitment 10 introduces the new policy areas civic space and youth participation to Liberia’s OGP commitments. Limited opportunities for Liberia’s young population make up a critical issue. Yet the commitment does not specify how the milestones, mainly focused on events and a report, would translate to permanent policy changes. The difficulty of such translation is evidenced by past National Youth Summits. To strengthen this commitment, the Ministry of Youth and Sports could consider incorporating policies and procedures aimed at ensuring ongoing and meaningful dialogue between youth and the government, with an emphasis on ensuring government responsiveness.
The four promising commitments in the table below are all initially assessed as ambitious, verifiable, and relevant to OGP values. All four commitments propose binding and institutionalized changes to government institutions, policies, or practices. The first three represent ongoing open government aims, while the fourth commitment cluster applies an “open response, open recovery” approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Commitment 1: Beneficial Ownership Transparency – A public beneficial ownership register would significantly increase Liberians’ access to information on who holds the reins to corporate power. Data published according to the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard would enable civil society to better monitor public procurement spending and would help the private sector conduct business with greater confidence.|
|Commitment 4: Supporting Institutions of Integrity – The passage of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Bill and creation of a special anticorruption court and National Integrity Committee would significantly strengthen Liberia’s anticorruption framework.|
|Commitment 5: Open and Inclusive Contracting Standards – An open contracting portal with detailed and timely procurement data, paired with civil society oversight, would greatly increase transparency and accountability in government spending.|
|Commitments 6 and 12: Improve and Open Healthcare Delivery – Greater Ministry of Health transparency of budget and supply allocation, medical supply chain management, and emergency procurement would improve the efficacy and accountability of the government’s COVID-19 response.|
 For more details regarding the IRM Refresh visit https://www.opengovpartnership.org/process/accountability/about-the-irm/irm-refresh/.
 For commitments that are clustered: the assessment of potential for results is conducted at the cluster level, rather than the individual commitments.