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Sierra Leone

Records and Archives Management (SL0029)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sierra Leone Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Information and Communications

Support Institution(s): Right to Access Information Commission, Human Resource Management Office, Public Sector Reform Unit, Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation, Office of the President, Mr. Muniru Kawa, Independent Consultant Society for Knowledge Management Society for Democratic Initiatives Federations

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Legislation & Regulation, Records Management, Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sierra Leone Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
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. The
critical lack of records has hampered the fight
against corruption and achievement of international
benchmarks, such as attainment of the Sustainable
Development Goals.

What is the commitment?
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.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
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 and to
harmonize policies and procedures for managing
digital records with the Right to Access Information
law and the open data portal.
This commitment will support the implementation of
the Right to Access Information Act in a bid to
improve public transparency. It will also support the
fight against corruption by:
 Increasing public integrity;
 Improving the effective management of public
resources; and
 Using innovation and technology.
Why is this commitment
relevant to OGP values
Access to information: The passing of the
Archives and Records Management Law will
support the implementation of the right to access
information law.
Public Accountability: When there is a law that
makes it mandatory for public officials to keep public
documents, citizen will use it to hold public officials
accountable especially when the records relate to
service delivery.Technology and innovation: The assessment of
digital records in the government agencies to
determine what exists and to develop structures for
coordinating, capturing, preserving and sharing
these records will set the pace for accessing digital
records.

Additional Information:
The Right to Access Information Act was passed in
October 2013 and the Right to Access Information
Commission (RAIC) was set up in 2014.
Efforts were made to pass the Records and
Archives Management Bill in 2016 and 2017, but it
was stalled along the way before being tabled in
Parliament.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Records and Archives Management

Main Objective

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.

Milestones

  • Cabinet approval of Records Management Policy
  • Cabinet approval of the draft National Archives and Records Management Bill
  • Parliament debates and passes the National Archives and Records Management Bill into law

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Sierra Leone’s action plan at (https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh).

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Access to Information

Potential impact:

Moderate

Commitment Analysis

This commitment aims to support the Right of Access to Information Act, 2013 by ensuring Cabinet Approval of a Records Management Policy and Bill, and parliamentary enactment of the National Archives and Records Management Act. The effective implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2013 depends on a records management system that allows for the efficient storage, retrieval, and disclosure of information. In 2014, the Public Sector Reform Unit of the Government of Sierra Leone undertook a capacity and needs assessment of records management in the Sierra Leone public service. [95] The assessment recognized that the Public Archives Act, 1965 was wholly inadequate on a number of grounds: The Act refers to “archives,” and does not accommodate records in current or semi-current use by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies; it does not recognize records in formats other than paper, and accordingly, does not provide for the particular vulnerabilities of electronic records (unauthorized access, deletion, or amendment); and it does not establish a centralized office. [96] The current legal framework therefore fails to facilitate an operational environment for records management conducive to supporting the right to information. [97]

Ensuring that Sierra Leone has a law on archives and records management that supports the Right of Access to Information Act was the focus of commitments in both the first and second national action plan. The current commitment responds to the problem of inadequate records management for the right to information by continuing to focus on the enactment of a Records Management Policy and Law.

The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, as it strengthens the right to information by addressing the need for proper management of current, semi-current, and archived records. Without such management systems, it will be impossible for the Right to Access Information Commission to grant information requests for government records.

At the time the commitment was designed, a draft Records Management policy [98] had already been developed, and a draft National Archives and Records Management Bill had already been published in the Government Gazette. [99] The Act provides for the establishment of a National Records and Archives Department responsible for ensuring that public entities follow good record management practices [100] and for establishing records centers in three regions. [101] The Act also provides for the establishment of a National Records and Archives Advisory Board, which must include a representative from civil society linked to archive and records management, alongside a host of government stakeholders. [102] The draft policy and Bill both recognize the link between records management and the right to information. The key policy statement of the draft Records Management policy, for example, is that the effective and efficient management of public and judicial records must (amongst other objectives) “promote public access to information.” [103] One of the desired outcomes of the policy is that “public offices are able to comply with the Right to Access Information Act, 2013.” [104] The draft National Archives and Records Management Bill establishes a National Records and Archives Department, which is specifically tasked with ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2013. [105] Parliament was expected to pass the Bill in 2018, however this did not transpire.

If fully implemented as written, the potential impact of this commitment is likely to be moderate. The commitment is verifiable, with clearly identifiable and measurable milestones and activities. While some stakeholders viewed the commitment as likely being transformative, [106] the commitment is coded as moderate, because while this long-awaited policy and legislative framework for records management in Sierra Leone represents a major step forward, the enactment of legislation will not on its own ensure that records are properly managed to promote public access to information.

[95] Capacity and Needs Assessment of Records Management in the Sierra Leone Public Service, Government of Sierra Leone, Public Sector Reform Unit, June 2014.
[96] Capacity and Needs Assessment of Records Management in the Sierra Leone Public Service, Government of Sierra Leone, Public Sector Reform Unit, June 2014 p. 41.
[97] Ms. Yeama Thompson, former commissioner of the Right to Access Information Commission, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 30 July 2020; Ms. Marcella Samba-Sesay, Civil Society Chair of the OGP Steering Committee, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 20 June 2020.
[98] Government of Sierra Leone Records Management Policy (version 1.1). A copy of the draft Records Management Policy is on file with the IRM Researcher.
[99] Charlie Hughes, IRM Researcher, “Sierra Leone Progress Report 2016 – 2018”, p. 42. A copy of the Draft Bill for National Records and Archives is on file with the IRM Researcher.
[100] Section 5(1), draft Bill for National Records and Archives.
[101] Section 6(1), draft Bill for National Records and Archives.
[102] Section 7, draft Bill for National Records and Archives.
[103] Government of Sierra Leone Records Management Policy (version 1.1) p. 8.
[104] Government of Sierra Leone Records Management Policy (version 1.1) p. 8.
[105] Section 6(1)(f), draft Bill for National Records and Archives.
[106] Ms. Yeama Thompson, former commissioner of the Right to Access Information Commission, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 30 July 2020; Ms. Marcella Samba-Sesay, Civil Society Chair of the OGP Steering Committee, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 20 June 2020.

Commitments

  1. Expanding Community-Based Justice Services

    SL0022, 2019, Access to Justice

  2. Improving Access to Secondary School

    SL0023, 2019, Education

  3. Tax System Transparency

    SL0024, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  4. Beneficial Ownership Registry

    SL0025, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  5. Improve Implementation of Right to Access to Information

    SL0026, 2019, Access to Information

  6. Advancing Gender Equality

    SL0027, 2019, Access to Justice

  7. Open Parliament

    SL0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Records and Archives Management

    SL0029, 2019, Access to Information

  9. Gender

    SL0012, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Foreign Aid Transparency

    SL0013, 2016, Access to Information

  11. Waste Management

    SL0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget

    SL0015, 2016, Access to Information

  13. Audit Report

    SL0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  14. Climate Change

    SL0017, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Elections

    SL0018, 2016, Access to Information

  16. Record Archive Management

    SL0019, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Access to Justice

    SL0020, 2016, Access to Justice

  18. Open Public Procurement Contracting

    SL0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  19. Publish and Revise 70% of Mining and Agricultural Lease Agreements and Contracts

    SL0009, 2014, Access to Information

  20. Starred commitment Right to Access Information Law

    SL0010, 2014, Access to Information

  21. Open Data Portal for Transparency in Fiscal and Extractive Transactions

    SL0011, 2014, Access to Information

  22. Public Integrity Pact with 5 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies

    SL0001, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  23. Archives and Records Management Act

    SL0002, 2014, Access to Information

  24. Scale up Performance Management and Service Delivery Directorate

    SL0003, 2014, Public Participation

  25. Compliance with Audit Measures

    SL0004, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  26. Starred commitment Single Treasure Account

    SL0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  27. Extractive Industry Revenue Act

    SL0006, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  28. Scaling up Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives

    SL0007, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  29. Local Content Policy (LCP) Linkages with MDAs

    SL0008, 2014, Capacity Building

Open Government Partnership