Record Archive Management (SL0019)
Action Plan: Sierra Leone National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Ministry of Information and Communications
Support Institution(s): Public Sector Reform Unit; Muniru Kawa, Independent Consultant +232 76 539718, Society for Knowledge Management, Society for Democratic Initiatives, Federations
Policy AreasE-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Open Data, Public Participation, Records Management
Status quo or problem/ issue to be addressed
The Public Archives Act is an essential step in ensuring effective implementation of the Right to Access Information Act. Without proper records management systems of key government documents, they cannot be publicly disclosed. Effective records management is also important for accountable and transparent operation of public institutions.
To complete the passage of the National Records and Archives Bill in 2016, and to harmonize policies and procedures for managing digital records with the Right to Access Information law and the open data portal.
Brief Description of Commitment (140 character limit)
This commitment is geared towards ensuring that Sierra Leone has a law on Archives and Records management which will support the implementation of the Right to Access Information.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 8. Records and Archives
Commitment Text: This commitment is geared towards ensuring that Sierra Leone has a law on archives and records management, which will support the implementation of the Right to Access Information.
- Drafting of the Record Management Act
- Publishing of the Bill online in government website
- Tabling of the Record Management Bill in Parliament
- Parliament debate and pass the Record Management bill into law
- Begin the process of harmonizing laws, policies and procedures across the functional areas, ensuring that the coordinating body has an ongoing role in supporting harmonization
- Carry out an assessment of digital records in the government agencies, including Statistics Sierra Leone, National Electoral Commission and the National Registration Secretariat, to determine what exists and to develop structures for coordinating, capturing, preserving and sharing these records
- Carry out consultations on the harmonization and assessment with civil society organizations and local communities within existing structures for local governance
Responsible institution: Ministry of Information and Communication, Public Sector Reform Unit.
Supporting institution(s): Society for Knowledge Management, Society for Democratic Initiatives.
Start date: July 2016 End date: June 2018
This commitment was carried forward from the first action plan to conclude activities to pass a law improving management of public records and archives. Specifically, the commitment sets out to:
- Draft the Record Management Act, and put it online;
- Pass a Record Management Bill into law;
- Begin the process of harmonizing public records, laws, policies, and procedures across functional areas; involving civil society; and
- Assess digital records in the government agencies.
There was limited progress by the midterm. The draft bill was completed at the end of the first action plan. At the midterm, the bill was published in the government gazette according to Constitutional requirements. The bill was in Parliament awaiting debate and passage. The remaining activities (the harmonizing process, digital records’ assessment, and civil society consultation) were not done as they were dependent on the passage of the bill. For more information, please see the 2016−2018 midterm report. 
End of term: Limited
Milestone 1: The milestone was completed before the action plan was adopted. The draft records’ management bill was completed at the end of the first action plan.
Milestone 2: The draft bill was not published on any government website as required by the milestone.
Milestone 3: At the midterm, the Record Management Bill was tabled in Parliament.
Milestone 4: Although the bill was in Parliament, it was not debated. According to the head of the Society for Knowledge Management, a CSO monitoring the commitment, the bill remained in Parliament with no further action.  According to a Commissioner at the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC), Parliament’s Information Oversight Committee has asked that the Ministry of Information and Communication table the bill again before the new Parliament, which was elected in March, 2018.  According the Commissioner, “the RAIC intends to review the draft bill as the consultations done on it under the previous government were insufficient.” 
Milestone 6: There was no assessment of digital records from the government agencies (including Statistics Sierra Leone, National Electoral Commission, and the National Registration Secretariat) to determine what exists and to develop structures for coordinating, capturing, preserving, and sharing these records
Milestone 7: Consultations with CSOs and local communities on the harmonization and assessment did not occur.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
Public record and archive management is a problem in Sierra Leone because the legislation for it is obsolete and doesn’t include use of Information Communication Technology. A new law and the use of digital systems would have improved public records’ management and therefore make it easier for officials to provide information to citizens. However, the passage of a new records’ management law was not achieved and the government took no action on digital management. As a result, no change occurred in the government’s practice of archiving public records or citizen access to information.
The government had not released the third action plan at the time of this report. The commitment should be carried forward into the next action plan because without improvements in public records’ archiving, implementation of the Right to Access Information law will face challenges. Passage of the records and archives bill into law has stalled in Parliament; and inclusion in the next action plan would bring together the relevant stakeholders to make progress.
 Charlie Hughes, Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (OGP, 9 Jul. 2018), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sierra-leone-mid-term-report-2016-2018-year-1/.
 Umaru Bangura (Executive Director, Society for Knowledge Management), email to the IRM researcher, 2 Jan. 2018.
 Commissioner Madam Yeama Thompson, email to the IRM researcher, 17 May 2019.
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