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Liberia Implementation Report 2017-2019

Liberia’s 2017–2019 action plan was implemented within a challenging context of political transition and economic turmoil. The majority of commitments did not result in open government reforms. However, Liberia made notable progress in citizens’ access to information and dispute resolution regarding land rights. Moving forward, Liberia’s multistakeholder forum should strategically focus where political, financial, and technical resources exist to advance Liberia’s open government agenda.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2012

Action plan under review: Third

Report type: Implementation

Number of commitments: 10

Action plan development

Is there a Multistakeholder forum: Yes

Level of public influence: Consult

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values: 10 (100%)

Transformative commitments: 2 (20%)

Potentially starred: 2 (20%)

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: 0 (0%)

Completed commitments: 0 (0%)

Commitments with Major DIOG*: 1 (10%)

Commitments with Outstanding DIOG*: 0 (0%)

Level of public influence: Consult

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

*DIOG: Did it Open Government

Commitments

LR0027 Legislative Monitoring Database
LR0028 Publication of Budget Documents
LR0029 Freedom of Information (FOI) Act
LR0030 Citizen Monitoring for the Justice System
LR0031 Feedback Mechanism to Build Accountability of the LNP
LR0032 Capacity Building for Integrity in Government
LR0033 Transparency in the Land Authority
LR0034 Accountability and Value for Money Through Open Contracting
LR0035 Beneficial Ownership Registry
LR0036 Open Data/Citizen Navigation Portal

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Liberia joined OGP in 2012. Since, Liberia has implemented three action plans. This report evaluates the implementation of Liberia’s third action plan.

General overview of action plan

Liberia’s 2017–2019 action plan was implemented within a challenging context of political transition and economic turmoil. Of the 10 commitments, six did not result in a change in government practices, three resulted in marginal changes, and one, Commitment 7, resulted in major open government reforms.

Modest open government reforms include the appointment of additional public information officers and magistrates. Such reforms slightly increased citizens’ access to information and justice.

Liberia’s land reforms constitute the country’s greatest open government advances under this action plan. The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) increased citizens’ online access to land policies and laws, and made headway creating a land deed registry and tribal land inventory. Most importantly, the LLA recognized the legitimacy of alternative land dispute resolution and established the Special Presidential Review Committee to resolve land conflicts at the highest political level.

A lack of political will among the legislature (Commitments 1 and 6), implementing agencies (Commitment 9), and wider government (Commitment 8) stood as major challenges to implementation. Activities were often dependent on donor funding (Commitments 3, 5, and 7). Specifically, many activities related to open data (in Commitments 5, 7, 8, and 10) saw limited implementation. The IRM researcher therefore recommends Liberia’s next action plan strategically focus where political, financial, and technical resources are available to advance open government reforms.

A starred commitment must meet several criteria:

  • The commitment’s design was Verifiable, Relevant to OGP values, and had a Transformative potential impact. As assessed in the Design Report.
  • The commitment’s implementation was assessed by IRM Implementation Report as Substantial or Complete.

Based on these criteria, Liberia’s action plan has no starred commitments.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Status at the end of the implementation cycle.
Commitment 6: Pass Legislation and Support Capacity Building for Integrity in Government

The commitment aimed to support the passage of critical laws to help ensure the integrity and accountability of public servants, support the development of capacity within the civil service, and build a network of honest government officials.

This commitment saw limited completion. Implementation was restricted to the incorporation of modules on integrity and accountability in the President’s Young Professionals Program training. Accountability Lab also held an annual Integrity Idol campaign, which had good participation and was well received by the public.
Commitment 7: Improve Transparency in the Land Authority

The commitment, a continuation from the second national action plan, sought to increase the transparency of land ownership and use both on and off-line. It also aimed to provide a land dispute resolution mechanism through the Liberia Land Authority.

This commitment was substantially completed and resulted in major changes to government practices. The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) took over management of the deed registry. It posted policies, laws, and updates on government activities on its website. It also created and implemented alternative land dispute resolution services that are preferred and widely used by the public. In addition, LLA simplified the deed registration process, created land survey regulation and surveyor guidelines, and trained 16 new surveyors. It executed these activities within the context of the landmark passage of the Land Rights Act. That legislation protects community and tribal lands, expands land categories, and provides rights for communities and guidelines for adjudicating disputes. Additionally, the Land Administration Project will build a land administration system and support tribal land inventory.
Commitment 8: Improve Accountability and Value for Money through Open Contracting

This commitment sought to improve accountability regarding and the value of money through open contracting. It intended to adopt international standards, provide access to information that can be used to judge the accountability of contracting processes, and create a forum to provide oversight of procurement processes.

This commitment was not started. The main constraints to implementation included changes in the presidential administration (and, therefore, policy direction), changes in the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission leadership, and leadership troubles at the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Five Key IRM Recommendations

The IRM key recommendations are prepared in the IRM Design Report. They aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan. In Liberia’s 2017–2019 Design Report, the IRM recommended the following:

Seek out and include citizens’ perspectives—through commitments, milestones, and/or activities generated by the public and milestones and/or activities matching Liberians’ circumstances, interests, and hopes.
Align the national action plan’s development with the Government of Liberia’s budget calendar to ensure time to request budget allocation and expenditure for OGP activities.
Get a summary of ministries’ and agencies’ current and planned programs, related roles, and results before the national action plan’s development.
Map the steps and stakeholders required to implement commitments within current contexts, and as technology is integral to meeting milestones, include the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in planning and implementation.
Build coherence within the national action plan’s monitoring and evaluation using a common framework for data creation and sharing.

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