Sierra Leone End-of-Term Report 2016-2018
Sierra Leone completed only one of its ten commitments, as the OGP leadership within the country experienced a significant breakdown. The second action plan led to limited improvements in open government. OGP leadership in Sierra Leone should be reformed.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. This report summarizes the results of the period June 2016 to July 2018; including relevant developments up to September 2018.
The OGP Secretariat in the office of the President has always coordinated the OGP since the country began participation in 2013. A Steering Committee of both government agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) is the main entity which develops action plans and discusses commitments.
In March 2018, a new government came into office following general elections. The new government moved OGP management from the office of the President and placed it under the Ministry of Information and Communication. At the time of this report, the government did not produce an end-of-term self-assessment on the implementation of the second action plan. Nor had Sierra Leone presented a new action plan for the third cycle.
Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation
Countries participating in OGP follow a process for consultation during development and implementation of their action plan. In Sierra Leone, the consultation process consists of monthly meetings by the Steering Committee at the OGP secretariat. The secretariat then follows up with agencies responsible for commitment implementation and gathers feedback for the next meeting. The Steering Committee had 34 members, 17 representing government institutions and 17 representing CSOs. According to civil society members, all the meetings had more attendance by CSOs than government agencies. The monthly Steering Committee meetings served as information-sharing and consulting mechanisms.
According to two civil society leaders, civil society members at Steering Committee meetings deliberated all issues raised, made queries, and offered solutions to challenges. Issues included the slow pace of commitment implementation, in-country travels for OGP issues, administrative matters, and IRM reports. The researcher contacted the OGP secretariat several times, requesting meeting minutes to verify these claims, but with no success.
Every member, both from the government and civil society, reported the monthly meetings were very irregular in 2017 and 2018. Neither these members, nor OGP officials, could confirm the number of OGP meetings that were held over the two-year implementation period. Many government agencies never attended meetings. CSOs, identified in the action plan as supporting partners, attended only one or two meetings. These organizations include the Campaign for Good Governance, the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law, and the Network Movement for Justice and Development. Civil society members from the Steering Committee said that because only a few meetings were held, there was no consultation. Indeed, the head of a CSO, the Society for Democratic Initiatives, reported that some government ministries did not even know that they had commitments to implement.
From the researcher’s own observations and from accounts by civil society members of the Steering Committee, part of the problem was that 2017 was an election year and the OGP coordinator was actively involved in campaign activities for the ruling party at the time.
Table 2: Consultation during Implementation
|Regular Multistakeholder Forum||Midterm||End of Term|
|1. Did a forum exist?||Yes||Yes|
|2. Did it meet regularly?||No||No|
Table 3: Level of Public Influence during Implementation
The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP. This spectrum shows the potential level of public influence on the contents of the action plan. In the spirit of OGP, most countries should aspire for “collaborative.”
|Level of Public Influence during Implementation of Action Plan||Midterm||End of Term|
|Empower||The government handed decision-making power to members of the public.|
|Collaborate||There was iterative dialogue AND the public helped set the agenda.|
|Involve||The government gave feedback on how public inputs were considered.|
|Consult||The public could give inputs.||✔|
|Inform||The government provided the public with information on the action plan.||✔|
|No Consultation||No consultation|||
The indicators and method used in the IRM research can be found in the IRM Procedures Manual. One measure, the “starred commitment” (✪), deserves further explanation due to its particular interest to readers and usefulness for encouraging a race to the top among OGP-participating countries. Starred commitments are considered exemplary OGP commitments. To receive a star, a commitment must meet several criteria:
- Starred commitments will have “medium” or “high” specificity. A commitment must lay out clearly defined activities and steps to make a judgment about its potential impact.
- The commitment’s language should make clear its relevance to opening government. Specifically, it must relate to at least one of the OGP values of Access to Information, Civic Participation, or Public Accountability.
- The commitment would have a “transformative” potential impact if completely implemented.
- The government must make significant progress on this commitment during the action plan implementation period, receiving an assessment of “substantial” or “complete” implementation.
Starred commitments can lose their starred status if their completion falls short of substantial or full completion at the end of the action plan implementation period.
In the midterm report, Sierra Leone’s action plan contained 0 starred commitments. At the end of term, based on the changes in the level of completion, Sierra Leone’s action plan contained 0 starred commitments.
Finally, the tables in this section present an excerpt of the wealth of data the IRM collects during its reporting process. For the full dataset for Sierra Leone, see the OGP Explorer at http://www.opengovpartnership.org/explorer.
About “Did It Open Government?”
To capture changes in government practice, the IRM introduced a new variable “Did It Open Government?” in end-of-term reports. This variable attempts to move beyond measuring outputs and deliverables to looking at how the government practice has changed as a result of the commitment’s implementation.
As written, some OGP commitments are vague and/or not clearly relevant to OGP values but achieve significant policy reforms. In other cases, commitments as written appear relevant and ambitious, but fail to open government as implemented. The “Did It Open Government” variable attempts to captures these subtleties.
The “Did It Open Government?” variable assesses changes in government practice using the following spectrum:
- Worsened: Government openness worsens as a result of the commitment.
- Did not change: No changes in government practice.
- Marginal: Some change, but minor in terms of its effect on level of openness.
- Major: A step forward for government openness in the relevant policy area, but remains limited in scope or scale.
- Outstanding: A reform that has transformed “business as usual” in the relevant policy area by opening government.
To assess this variable, researchers establish the status quo at the outset of the action plan. They then assess outcomes as implemented for changes in government openness.
Readers should keep in mind limitations. IRM end-of-term reports are prepared only a few months after the implementation cycle is completed. The variable focuses on outcomes that can be observed in government openness practices at the end of the two-year implementation period. The report and the variable do not intend to assess impact because of the complex methodological implications and the time frame of the report.
General Overview of Commitments
As part of OGP, countries are required to make commitments in a two-year action plan. The tables below summarize the completion level at the end of term and progress on the “Did It Open Government?” metric. For commitments that were complete at the midterm, the report will provide a summary of the progress report findings but focus on analysis of the “Did It Open Government?” variable. For further details on these commitments, please see the Sierra Leone IRM progress report 2016−2018. The commitments covered a broad range of issues, including gender violence, waste management, public records and archives, and public elections. Four commitments focused on improving management of public finances.
 OGP Coordinator, interview with IRM researcher, 11 Dec. 2017. This was confirmed by civil society representatives at the civil society meeting in Freetown, with the OGP Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Africa Regional Coordinator, on 13 August 2018.
 Charles Kamara (Education for All Foundation) and Marcella Samba-Sesay (Campaign for Good Governance), interview with IRM researcher, 2 Apr. 2019.
 Emmanuel Saffa-Abdulai (Society of Democratic Initiatives) and Charles Kamara (Education for All Foundation), Freetown civil society meeting with the OGP Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Africa Regional Coordinator, 13 Aug. 2018.
 Bernadette French (Gender Programmer Officer, Campaign for Good Governance), interview with IRM researcher, 9 Aug. 2018; Head of Programs (Network Movement for Justice and Development), interview with IRM researcher, 3 Sept. 2018.
 Charles Kamara (Education for All Foundation) and Marcella Samba-Sesay (Campaign for Good Governance), interview with IRM researcher, 14 May 2019.
 Saffa-Abdulai, Freetown civil society meeting, 13 Aug. 2018.
 IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm.
 The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919.