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Liberia

Capacity Building for Integrity in Government (LR0032)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Liberia Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Governance Commission, the Legislature, LACC, LRC, and MOFA.

Support Institution(s): MICAT, LACC, GC, LIPA, CSA, Accountability Lab Liberia, iCampus, iLab Liberia, CAPDOG, CUPPADL, PYPP

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Capacity Building, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Liberia Implementation Report 2017-2019, Liberia Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Lead implementing agency/actor: Liberin Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC); What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: Integrity within the public sector is perceived to be very low. In practice, a lack of integrity undermines trust in government and leads to corruption, patronage and mismanagement. It also prevents honest young Liberians from entering government as a career path.; What is the commitment?: The commitment will support the passage of critical laws that will help to 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.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?: The legal frameworks will put in place rule for the behaviors of public officials, while the training and network of honest government officials will build values of integrity throughout the civil service.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

6. Pass Legislation and Support Capacity Building for Integrity in Government

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"The commitment will support the passage of critical laws that will help to 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.

The legal frameworks will put in place rule for the behaviors of public officials, while the training and network of honest government officials will build values of integrity throughout the civil service."

Milestones:

  1. Ensure the passage of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Acts
  2. Strengthen implementation of Executive Order (19) (Code of Conduct for National Officials);
  3. Revise curriculum and provide training to incoming government civil servants through LIPA and the PYPP on issues of accountability and integrity;
  4. Build on the Integrity Idol campaign to create a national network of local government officials with integrity to share ideas, collaborate and push for integrity

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Liberia's action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/liberia-action-plan-2017-2019/

IRM Design Report Assessment

IRM Implementation Report Assessment

● Verifiable: Yes

● Relevant: Yes

Civic Participation

● Potential impact: Transformative

Completion: Limited

Did it Open Government? Did Not Change

This commitment aimed to pass the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Act and strengthen implementation of the 2014 National Code of Conduct (COC). It intended to update civil service training to increase capacity for accountability. It also intended, through the Integrity Idol campaign, [53] to form a network of government officials with the integrity to push for good governance. Commitment activities aimed to strengthen integrity within the civil service to address government corruption and the mistreatment of whistleblowers. [54] Milestone 1 is a continuation of a commitment in Liberia's 2015 action plan to pass the Whistleblower Protection Act, which was not implemented.

At the time of this commitment's formulation, citizens perceived minimal accountability regarding government corruption in Liberia. [55] This perception came despite the existence of the Code of Conduct Act (2014), which outlines civil service disciplinary actions for infringement, and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission's reporting and investigative procedures. In practice, discipline was discretionary and proven lawbreakers were either excused, given negligible penalties, or, if dismissed, rehired elsewhere. [56] This lax treatment resulted in people ignoring illegal activity and very few carrying out accountability measures. [57]

The completion of this commitment was limited at the end of the implementation period. Passage of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Act stalled (Milestone 1). Furthermore, the IRM did not find evidence that the COC was printed into handbills, a requirement to become an actionable law (Milestone 2). The president's refusal to publicly disclose his assets, as required by Part X of the COC, further weakened its application. [58] The administration also appointed individuals with known corruption allegations, [59] underfunded the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, [60] and made an active bid to remove tenure (and thus independence) of public oversight commissions. [61] There were no mechanisms to support the implementation of the COC. During this period, the civil service was distracted by a "wage harmonization" scheme, [62] which resulted in civil servants not receiving salaries for more than five months. This resulted in residual effects on government services and the general economy. [63]

The government partially completed Milestones 3 and 4. The President's Young Professionals Program continued to incorporate modules on integrity and accountability during training.

Accountability Lab's 2019 Integrity Idol campaign was successfully held, as it had been in previous years. [64] The annual event is popular, receiving around 5,000 applications a year and wide listenership on radio and viewership on television. [65] YouTube videos showcasing the 2019 recipients are available online. [66] The event continues to provide a positive incentive for public servants to conduct their duties with integrity. However, significant work remains to fully address government corruption, and the IRM researcher did not find evidence that the campaign led to creation of a national network of officials. [67]

This commitment did not result in a change in government practices during the implementation period. Milestones 3 and 4 represent activities that were ongoing prior to this commitment. The passage of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Acts and fuller implementation of Executive Order 19 would have represented a transformative change to government practices. This commitment was not sufficiently implemented to increase citizens' access to information on corruption in government.

Passage and implementation of the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Act would have a transformative impact on government practices. However, these reforms have been long delayed due to a lack of political will in the national legislature. [68] If this commitment is continued, efforts should focus on building high-level political support and public pressure for this legislation. Interim whistleblower mechanisms, such as a hotline, and regulations can be explored in the absence of a national legal framework. See the OGP's Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus: Whistleblower Protection and Scientific Integrity for guidance and examples on implementing whistleblower protections in the context of COVID-19. [69]

[53] "Liberia: Accountability Lab Launches Integrity Idol 2019 Edition," Front Page Africa, 11 March 2019, https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberia-accountability-lab-launches-integrity-idol-2019-edition/.
[55] "Almost Half of Liberians Perceive an Increase in Corruption over the Past Year, New Afrobarometer Survey Shows," Afrobarometer 21 November 2018, https://afrobarometer.org/press/almost-half-liberians-perceive-increase-corruption-over-past-year-new-afrobarometer-survey.
[56] "Liberia: FDA, Lands & Mines Connived," The New Dawn/All Africa, 7 April 2015, https://allafrica.com/stories/201504070881.html.
[57] Anderson Miamen (Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia), interview by IRM researcher, 30 October 2018.
[58] "Assets Declaration 'My Privacy,''' Daily Observer, 20 February 2019, https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/assets-declaration-my-privacy/.
[59] Lennart Dodoo, "Liberia: Alex Tyler, Despite Multiple Corruption Allegations, Resurfaces in Weah-led Government," Front Page Africa, 20 June 2019, https://frontpageafricaonline.com/front-slider/liberia-alex-tyler-despite-multiple-corruption-allegations-resurfaces-in-weah-led-government/.; Leroy M. Sonpon III, "Eyebrows Raised over Charles J. L. Gibson's Appointment to Head LACC," Daily Observer, 28 February 2019, https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/eyebrows-raised-over-charles-j-l-gibsons-appointment-to-head-lacc/#comments.
[60] Daniel Finnan, ) "Liberia's Anti-corruption Agency Has 'Dented Credibility,' Says Information Minister," RFI, 12 November 2018, http://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20190219-liberias-anti-corruption-agency-has-dented-credibility-says-information-minister.
[61] Ida Reeves, "Senate Rejects Pres. Weah's Bill to Eliminate Tenured Positions," The Bush Chicken, 31 May 2019, https://bushchicken.com/senate-rejects-pres-weahs-bill-to-eliminate-tenured-positions/.
[62] Jefferson Krua, "Civil Servants to Suffer Yet Another Round of Salary Cuts," The Bush Chicken, 4 December 2019, https://bushchicken.com/civil-servants-to-suffer-yet-another-round-of-salary-cuts/.
[63] "Salary Harmonization Flawed, Provocative," Daily Observer, 7 October 2019, https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/salary-harmonization-flawed-provocative/.
[64] "Liberia: Accountability Lab Launches Integrity Idol 2019 Edition," Front Page Africa, 11 March 2019, https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberia-accountability-lab-launches-integrity-idol-2019-edition/; and photos of the event, available at the Integrity Icon Liberia website: https://integrityicon.org/Liberia/.
[65] James Kiawoin and Sakari Ishetiar, "Liberia's 'Integrity Idol': Pursuing Goal 16 through Public Awareness," Highwire Earth, 20 June 2019, https://highwire.princeton.edu/2019/06/20/liberias-integrity-idol-pursuing-goal-16-through-public-awareness/.
[67] James Kiawoin and Sakari Ishetiar, "Liberia's 'Integrity Idol': Pursuing Goal 16 through Public Awareness," 20 June 2019, https://highwire.princeton.edu/2019/06/20/liberias-integrity-idol-pursuing-goal-16-through-public-awareness/.
[68] "Passage of Whistleblower Protection Act," Liberia, Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/members/liberia/commitments/LR0019/.
[69] "A Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus: Whistleblower Protection & Scientific Integrity," Open Government Partnership, 6 May 2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/a-guide-to-open-government-and-the-coronavirus-whistleblower-protection-scientific-integrity/.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership