Reports

Liberia End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (Year 2)

Country : Liberia
Dates Under Review : July 2016–June 2017
Report publication year : 2018

Overview - Liberia End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (Year 2)

Liberia has made progress in improving citizens’ consultations on land rights and providing increased access to information on budget and public spending. However, the commitments on the whistleblower act and on the new government’s platforms remain unfulfilled.

Process 

Development of Liberia’s action plan involved consultation meetings between a variety of stakeholders, including government ministries and institutions, civil society organizations, and international partners. Moving forward, the government could give greater advance notice of consultation events, and could better publicize the notes and outcomes from meetings. Providing a sufficient period for public comment on the draft action plan could also allow for the collection of more diverse views.

Liberia did not act contrary to OGP process

A country is considered to have acted contrary to process if one or more of the following occurs:

  • The National Action Plan was developed with neither online or offline engagements with citizens and civil society
  • The government fails to engage with the IRM researchers in charge of the country’s Year 1 and Year 2 reports
  • The IRM report establishes that there was no progress made on implementing any of the commitments in the country’s action plan
During Action Plan Implementation
Y2
No Consultation
Inform
Consult
Involve
Collaborate
Who was involved? 
Civil Society Involvement
Beyond "governance" civil society
Mostly "governance" civil society X
No/little civil society
Narrow / little government consultation Primarily agencies that serve other agencies Significant involvement of line ministries and agencies
Government Involvement

The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) is the lead agency responsible for implementing the action plan. MICAT formed a National Steering Committee (NSC) to oversee implementation, composed of thirty institutions representing government agencies and institutions from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, autonomous bodies, as well as representatives from civil society organizations working on issues related to the values of OGP.

Commitment Performance 

Liberia’s second action plan contained 20 commitments, grouped into four thematic areas (transparency, citizen participation, accountability and integrity, and technology and innovation). Commitment completion increased from the first year of assessment but the number of starred commitments decreased by one due to changes in IRM evaluation criteria. 

Commitment Completion 

Current Plan
Year 1: 10%
Year 2: 30%
2013-2015
Year 1: 0%

Commitment Ambition 

Current Plan
Year 1: 35%
2013-2015
Year 1: 17%

Starred commitments 

Current Plan
Year 1: 15%
Year 2: 10%
2013-2015
Year 1: 17%

Commitments Overview

Commitment Title Well-designed? * Complete Major or Outstanding Results? ** Overview
1.1 Appoint and train PIOs No No No To further implement the 2010 FOI law, 50 Public Information Officers (PIOs) will be appointed and trained to work in government ministries. At the end of the assessment period, 48 PIOs had been appointed and trained but no quarterly reports were published.
1.2 Popularize FOI Law No Yes No The Independent Information Commission created and launched an online platform for information requests (www.infolib.org.lr). The government carried out awareness raising activities via billboards in 6 of the 15 counties and conducted town hall meetings.
1.3 Expand open budget initiative Yes No No To publicize the open budget initiative in Liberia, 10,000 copies of the Citizens’ Guide booklets were produced (in addition to the 6,500 copies already distributed). The SMS platform to disseminate budget information and the Open Data Portal to publish quarterly budgets and all audit reports online were not implemented.
1.4 Information on land reforms and national resources No Yes Yes This commitment is complete with the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative having conducted broad-based stakeholder consultations in six counties and in concession areas to inform the public on land and natural resource use.
✪1.5 Information on commercial land use rights Yes No No To increase citizens’ knowledge of revenue generated from the extractive sector, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia and LEITI conducted community outreach activities and an internal web-based cadaster was developed to host land-related information.
1.6 Development assistance transparency Yes No No The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and international partners built the aid management platform, which displays information on project locations, disbursed amounts, donor agencies, and recipient sectors, but the link and open data portal are no longer accessible.
1.7 Link Financial Management System with the Aid Management Platform No No No A technical assessment to determine how data modelling in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) could be transferred to the Aid Management Platform was conducted, but this commitment has unclear relevance to OGP values.
1.8 Track EVD Funds No No No Although Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) information on the affected areas and the amount of funds disbursed for fighting the disease was published online in annual government reports by the MOH and MFDP, it is not accessible in an open portal.
✪2.1 Implementation of the new Jury Law Yes Yes No To increase public participation in the justice system, the budget for creating and staffing the central Jury Management Office has been approved and the office established in Monrovia at the Temple of Justice.
2.2 Citizen monitoring of the justice system No No No This commitment seeks to publish quarterly analyses of court returns. The Ministry of Justice has collected some data on court returns, such as trial dates and case types, but has not published quarterly reports.
2.3 Civic education and engagement using offline tools No Yes No The commitment seeks to raise awareness of corruption and educate citizens on relevant social issues, however, as written, does not create new mechanisms for citizens to engage in decision making, increase access to information, or hold officials accountable.
2.4 LNP “Know Your Rights” policing campaign No No Yes A website and Facebook page have been launched to publicize information on police activities and mode of operation with functionality for citizens to register comments or seek redress on police actions.
3.1 Passage of Whistleblower Protection Act Yes No No This commitment entails passage of the Whistleblower Protection Act, which had been drafted in Parliament prior to adoption of the action plan. Passage has stalled with a lack of political will by the legislature cited as the reason.
3.2 Community building for accountability organizations No Yes No The OpenGov Hub in Monrovia is completed and fully operational. The Liberia Accountability Incubator Program for young civil society leaders to build sustainable, effective tools for accountability, participation and social impact covering 15 counties, was also established.
3.3 Improve integrity within government systems No Yes No By June 2016, the Liberian Institute for Public Administration (LIPA) had trained 20 senior and junior officers on integrity issues but there is only minor potential impact because specific goals or how improved transparency and ethical conduct will be measured are not identified.
4.1 Citizens feedback vis SMS No No No This commitment seeks to collect citizens’ feedback on development project outcomes, spending, and use of public services through SMS. Implementation of this commitment has not started due to lack of funding.
4.2 Improve online government information No No No This commitment is designed to standardize government websites and train staff on how to maintain those websites. Government website standards were created and implemented by 70% of all government agencies (45 in total).
4.5 Launch an Open Data portal Yes No No Creating an open data portal on which the government regularly publishes data, statistics, and information in the public interest. The portal prototype has been created but there is no permanent URL and data is not regularly updated.
4.3 Expand Integration of Financial Management Systems (IFMIS) No No No IFMIS was upgraded and scaled to support all county service centers in Liberia and more than 100 ministries, agencies, and commissions. Thirty-two additional MACs have been integrated on IFMIS and four counties have been integrated to use the system.
4.4 Establish LNP Office Informatics Yes No No The Liberia National Police officially launched its website to track police data outside the assessment period but it does not provide updates in real time, nor does it provide crime statistics or crime maps.

* Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as being specific, relevant, and potentially transformative
** Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as having major or outstanding results in terms of the ‘Did it Open Government?’ variable
✪ Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as being specific, relevant, potentially transformative, and substantially or fully implemented

IRM Report - Liberia End-of-Term Report 2015-2017 (Year 2)


Overview: Liberia

Liberia has made progress in improving citizens’ consultations on land rights and providing increased access to information on budget and public spending. However, the commitments on the whistleblower act and on the new government’s platforms remain unfulfilled.

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 end of term report summarizes the results of the period 24 June 2015 through 30 June 2016 and includes some relevant developments up to June 2017.

Table 1: At a Glance

 

Mid-term

End-of-Term

Number of Commitments

20

Level of Completion

Completed

2

6

Substantial

7

3

Limited

8

10

Not Started

3

1

Number of Commitments with…

Clear Relevance to OGP Values

17

17

Transformative Potential Impact

7

7

Substantial or Complete Implementation

9

9

All Three ()

3

2

Did It Open government?

Major

2

Outstanding

0

Moving Forward

Number of Commitments Carried Over to Next Action Plan

6

The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) coordinates the development of the OGP national action plan and implementation of the commitments. However, MICAT does not have the power to compel other agencies to change policies or act on commitments. The main role of MICAT is to organize and coordinate OGP meetings among stakeholders during the development and implementation of the action plan. A Steering Commitment (SC) composed of government institutions and CSOs serves as a working group and advisory board. However, in the case of both MICAT and the SC, their role is limited to monitoring and reporting. Liberias national action plan was co-created and implemented by government agencies, international organizations and CSOs. Accountability Lab played a lead role in collaborating with other stakeholders to implement commitments under three of the four thematic areas. In September 2017, the government published an end of term self-assessment report, which indicated that 10 of the 20 commitments were complete. This report has been distributed among the OGP Liberia team and its partners, though there has been no confirmation of public feedback or comments.  

The new national action plan 2017–2019[Note1: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/liberia-action-plan-2017-2019, accessed 29 April 2018.] has been launched with commitment implementation activities starting in October 2017. This includes 10 commitments: four are new and the remaining six were carried forward from the second action plan.

Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation

Countries participating in OGP follow a process for consultation during development and implementation of their action plan.

Liberia’s national action plan was developed through an extensive consultative process involving both national and international civil society organizations (CSOs). This process targeted the 15 political subdivisions of the country by organizing regional workshops. About 21 CSOs were engaged in the implementation of the commitments, with Accountability Lab and iLab serving as lead implementing agencies in seven of the 20 commitments.

Accountability Lab and iLab Liberia supported these commitments through “Knowmore LIB”—a project to assess, find, collect and visualize information and datasets on key government services.[Note2: Accountability Lab, https://bit.ly/2KcdqEv] The team is working with the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) to build a dual-purpose website to function as an open data hub and a government navigation portal to help citizens understand and use government services more effectively.

In other thematic commitments, The Carter Center and Internews (international non-profit organizations) have provided training support for the newly appointed Public Information Officers who are assigned to various government institutions to disseminate information requested by the public on the FOI law. The local CSO, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has also been engaged in the Open Budget Initiative which ensures citizens’ access to budget information. They have organized interactive forums in some districts where representatives meet with their constituencies and provide information related to projects and funds. Furthermore, CENTAL through its "Resource and You" project has engaged citizens in Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa to discuss aspects of concession agreements related to community.[Note3: Cental, Open Government, http://www.tiliberia.org/?page_id=333]

The National Steering Committee (NSC) oversees the implementation of the national action plan. The committee is composed of 30 institutions representing bodies from the executive and legislative branches, as well as representatives from CSOs. Chaired by the MICAT deputy Minister, and co-chaired by a CSO representative selected by CSO members, the NSC meets monthly to enhance effective coordination in implementing the action plan. 

Table 2: Consultation during Implementation

 

Regular Multistakeholder Forum

Midterm

End-of-Term

1. Did a forum exist?

Yes

Yes

2. Did it meet regularly?          

Yes

Yes

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.[Note4: IAP2’s Public Participation Spectrum, http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iap2.org/resource/resmgr/foundations_course/IAP2_P2_Spectrum_FINAL.pdf] 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

 

 

 

About the Assessment

The indicators and method used in the IRM research can be found in the IRM Procedures Manual.[Note5: IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm] 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.[Note6: The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919]

·       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, Liberia’s action plan contained three starred commitments. At the end of term, based on the changes in the level of completion, Liberia’s action plan contained two 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 Liberia, see the OGP Explorer at 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 timeframe of the report.

Commitment Implementation

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 Liberia IRM progress report 2015-2016.

After a rigorous consultative process, the second Liberia action plan focused on four themes: Transparency, Civic Participation, Accountability and Integrity, and Technology and Innovation. Under each theme, the commitments were arranged in clusters. The greatest number of commitments were in the area of Transparency (eight), followed by Technology and Innovation (five), Civic Participation (four), and Accountability and Integrity (three).

In total, there are 20 commitments grouped under the four thematic areas. Within each theme, similar commitments are arranged and assessed in clusters to help the reader. This is due to the high number of commitments included in the action plan.

Table 4: Assessment of Progress by Commitment

 

Commitment Overview

Specificity

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Midterm

Did It Open Government?

End-of-Term

None

Low

Medium

High

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

Theme 1: Transparency

1.1 Appoint and train PIOs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.2 Popularize FOI Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.3 Expand open budget initiative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.4 Information on land reforms and national resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.5 Information on commercial land use rights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.6 Development assistance transparency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.7 Link Financial Management System with the Aid Management Platform

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8 Track EVD Funds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme II: Citizen Participation

2.1 Implementation of the new Jury Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2 Citizen monitoring of the justice system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.3 Civic education and engagement using offline tools

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.4 LNP “Know Your Rights” policing campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme III: Accountability and Integrity

3.1 Passage of Whistleblower Protection Act

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.2 Community building for accountability organizations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.3 Improve integrity within government systems

 

 

 

Unclear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme IV: Technology and Innovation

4.1 Citizens feedback vis SMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.2 Improve online government information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.3 Expand Integration of Financial Management Systems (IFMIS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.4 Establish LNP Office Informatics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.5 Launch an Open Data portal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                             

Methodological Note

The end-of-term report is based on desk research and interviews with governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders. The IRM report builds on the findings of the government’s self-assessment report; other assessments of progress put out by civil society, the private sector, or international organizations; and the previous IRM progress report.

The approach in writing the end-of-term report was based on desk reviews, including literature reviews and in-depth interviews with key informants, government officials and members of CSOs. Two field visits were conducted, to Nimba and Lofa counties, where consultations with community members and CSOs were also carried out.

The following CSO and government representatives were interviewed by the IRM researcher:

·       Blair Glencorse, Accountability Lab

·       Francis E. Lansana, iLab

·       Luther D. Jeke, iLab

·       Emmanuel Howe, Independent Information Commission

·       William Howard, Peace Work Liberia

·       Suzanna Baysah, LOFANET