Reports

Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (Year 1)

Country : Sierra Leone
Dates Under Review : July 2016-June 2017
Report publication year : 2018
Researcher : Charlie Hughes

Overview - Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (Year 1)

Sierra Leone’s second action plan covers a diverse range of issues including gender violence, waste management, climate change and elections. The next action plan could be made more relevant to civic participation and public accountability through inclusion of commitments on public service delivery and anti-corruption measures. 

Process 

The OGI conducted wide-ranging consultations in the development of the action plan including in-person meetings, surveys, radio discussions and social media. The OGP Secretariat drafted the commitments with inputs from CSOs and various government agencies involved, and the multi-stakeholder Steering Committee finalised the plan. It is unclear how and to what extent public feedback was incorporated into the development of the commitments. There is a concern among some CSOs that the steering committee is not representative of all voices in civil society and that its minutes are not published. 

Sierra Leone 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

Level of Input by Stakeholders

During Action Plan Development
Y1
No Consultation
Inform
Consult
Involve
Collaborate
Who was involved? 
Civil Society Involvement
Beyond "governance" civil society X
Mostly "governance" civil society
No/little civil society
Narrow / little government consultation Primarily agencies that serve other agencies Significant involvement of line ministries and agencies
Government Involvement

The Coordinator for the Open Government Initiative, in the office of the President, leads the OGP process in Sierra Leone. Participation in OGP was limited mainly to agencies in the executive branch of government. Many of the governance civil society organisations that participated in the first action plan participated in developing the second. Public consultations included participation from a broad range of city-based non-governmental organisations, community-based groups, women’s associations, trade groups, and disabled persons.

OGP Co-Creation Requirements Followed 

Commitment Performance 

Sierra Leone’s second action plan comprised 10 commitments covering a broad range of issues. Commitments often include activities or targets that had already been achieved prior to the action plan period, diminishing their overall potential impact, with the majority focused on increasing access to information.

Commitment Completion 

Current Plan
Year 1: 0%
2014-2016
Year 1: 0%
Year 2: 9%

Commitment Ambition 

Current Plan
Year 1: 10%
2014-2016
Year 1: 36%

Starred commitments 

Current Plan
Year 1: 0%
2014-2016
Year 1: 18%

IRM Recommendations 

  1. Harness the contribution of civil society beyond membership of the Steering Committee
  2. Improve inter-governmental coordination on OGP, regularly report on implementation of commitments
  3. Consider commitments on transparency of extractive industry, with the focus on disclosure of contracts
  4. Consider commitments on citizen engagement in budget tracking and monitoring of public service delivery
  5. Include commitment on enforcement of anti-corruption measures

Commitments Overview

Commitment Title Well-designed * Complete Overview
1. Gender-Sexual Violence Against Women No No To address gender-based sexual violence this commitment will increase publication of incidences of sexual violence, enhance forensic capacity, and develop an online directory of offenders. Initial work was carried out for the online directory but has been suspended over legal concerns.
2. Foreign Aid Transparency No No To address transparency in international donor funding for Ebola, the Development Assistance Database began publishing Ebola-specific funding in 2015 but the Development Assistance Coordinating Office did not conduct public donor meetings.
3. Waste Management No No With several activities also part of the President’s Recovery Priorities after the Ebola crisis, this commitment engaged with local communities and trained sanitation workers but did not develop its main target of a new waste management policy.
4. Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget Yes No In line with the Public Financial Management Act of 2016, the government published the 2016 Citizens’ Budget, but the pre-budget statement, midyear budget review, and information on tax exemptions have not yet been published.
5. Auditor General’s Report No No There is no evidence that any progress has been made to address the low implementation rate of Audit Service recommendations by publishing government entity action plans for implementation, progress made, and the Parliamentary Audit Committee reports.
6. Climate Change No No Preliminary actions have been taken to support the development of a user-friendly database on climate change, as well as substantial efforts to provide the public with climate information through media outlets.
7. Elections No No This commitment would have a minor potential impact as the National Elections Commission has already been providing constituency and boundary data online prior to the start of the action plan.
8. Records and Archives Management No No To legally develop a records management system, this commitment will pass the bill and publish it online. The draft bill was completed prior to the start of the action plan and passage is expected in 2018.
9. Access to Justice No No While the commitment objective is to increase transparency in case management and establish structures at the local level to improve access to justice, the only activity that has relevance to OGP values is the quarterly publication of court cases.
10. Open Public Procurement Contracting No No This commitment aims to fulfil the 2016 Public Procurement Act by publishing government contracts from previous years beginning in 2015, as well as active contracts through 2018. Published information did not include all eight ministries listed or information for 2015.

* Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as specific, relevant, and has a transformative potential impact
✪ Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as being specific, relevant, potentially transformative, and substantially or fully implemented

IRM Report - Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (Year 1)


I. Introduction 
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The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an international multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. OGP provides an international forum for dialogue and sharing among governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector, all of which contribute to a common pursuit of open government.

Sierra Leone began its formal participation in October 2013 when the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President declared his country’s intention to participate in the initiative[Note1: .opengovpartnership.org/documents/sierra-leone-letter-of-intent-ogp].

In order to participate in OGP, governments must exhibit a demonstrated commitment to open government by meeting a set of (minimum) performance criteria. Objective, third-party indicators are used to determine the extent of country progress on each of the criteria: fiscal transparency, public officials’ asset disclosure, citizen engagement, and access to information. See Section VII: Eligibility Requirements for more details.

All OGP-participating governments develop OGP action plans that elaborate concrete commitments with the aim of changing practice beyond the status quo over a two-year period. The commitments may build on existing efforts, identify new steps to complete ongoing reforms, or initiate action in an entirely new area.

Sierra Leone developed its national action plan from April 2016 to June 2016. The official implementation period for the action plan was 1 July 2016 through 30 June 2018. This year one report covers the action plan development process and first year of implementation, from July 2016 to June 2017. Beginning in 2015, the IRM started publishing end-of-term reports on the final status of progress at the end of the action plan’s two-year period. Any activities or progress occurring after the first year of implementation June 2017 will be assessed in the end-of-term report. The government published its self-assessment in October 2017. At the time of writing [October 2017], the report had not been made available for public comments.

In order to meet OGP requirements, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) of OGP has partnered with Charlie Hughes, an independent researcher who carried out this evaluation of the development and implementation of Sierra Leone’s second action plan. To gather the voices of multiple stakeholders, the IRM researcher interviewed government officials, independent experts and civil society leaders; and held one stakeholder forum in the capital city for civil society organisations. The IRM aims to inform ongoing dialogue around development and implementation of future commitments. Methods and sources are dealt with in Section VI of this report (Methodology and Sources).


II. Context 
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The development and implementation of the second OGP action plan has happened in the context of recovery from the Ebola crisis. The action plan covers a diverse range of topics relevant to the national context in Sierra Leone, including gender, climate change, budget transparency and public procurement. While commitments focus on improving access to information they are limited in activities that would create transformative change for citizen engagement and public accountability.

2.1 Background

Sierra Leone experienced an extremely destructive civil war from 1991 until 2002 that negatively impacted both private and public sector infrastructures. Sierra Leone is the third poorest country in the world according to the UN Human Development Report, with a Human Development Index ranking of 179 out of 188.[Note2: UN Human Development Report, http://www.hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf] It is also ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, at 123 out of 176 nations, according to Transparency International.[Note3: Sierra Leone, Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International, https://www.transparency.org/country/SLE] With a score of 30 out of 100, it highlights the country’s issues related to the functioning of public institutions, such as the police and judiciary. [Note4: Corruption Perceptions Index, https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016#table]

The Open Budget Survey 2015 ranked Sierra Leone 52 out of 100 possible points on budget transparency, an increase since 2012. However, legislative oversight and public engagement with the budgeting processes remain weak.[Note5: Open Budget Survey, 2015 Sierra Leone, https://www.internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/OBS2015-CS-Sierra-Leone-English.pdf] According to Freedom House, Sierra Leone is partly free and scores particularly low in political rights and civil liberties.[Note6: Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2017, Sierra Leone, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2017/sierra-leone ] Incidents of police violence and a poor corruption prosecutorial record have negatively impacted government functioning and personal freedoms. Violence against women continues to be widespread and protections for women’s rights are weak.[Note7: Sierra Leone 2017-2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/sierra-leone/report-sierra-leone/ ] Although Sierra Leone has experienced an upward trend in the past decade on several indicators, the 2017 Ibrahim Index for African Governance reports that the most recent five-year trends have highlighted deterioration in accountability, particularly in public sector transparency and corruption investigations. [Note8: Ibrahim Index of African Governance, http://s.mo.ibrahim.foundation/u/2017/11/21165610/2017-IIAG-Report.pdf?_ga=2.119206665.1471390148.1513047443-696923240.1513047443#page=25]

A few years ago, two disasters exacerbated these problems, which affected the country’s recovery efforts and economic stability. At the end of 2013, international iron ore prices dropped, resulting in a significant impact on the GDP due to the country’s heavy reliance on this export.[Note9: African Economic Outlook, Sierra Leone, http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/country-notes/sierra-leone],[Note10: The World Bank in Sierra Leone, http:www.worldbank.org/en/country/sierraleone/overview] This has led the country to rely more on international financial institutions to address the resulting budgetary and balance of payment gaps as well as improving the foreign exchange position.[Note11: The World Bank in Sierra Leone, http:www.worldbank.org/en/country/sierraleone/overview] In 2014, Sierra Leone became one of the hardest hit countries during the Ebola outbreak, which killed thousands of people.[Note12: WHO Ebola data and statistics, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.ebola-sitrep.ebola-summary-latest?lang=en] Not only did Ebola impact the economic stability of the country, the funds utilised in the fight against the Ebola epidemic were marred by a corruption scandal. An initial report on the management of the funds meant to fight Ebola suggested that at least $14 million were misappropriated or unaccounted for in the first six months of the outbreak.[Note13: BBC, ‘Where are Sierra Leone’s missing Ebola victims?’, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38718196] The government’s Audit Service highlighted over-pricing, non-delivery of procured items, improper accounting, fictitious procurement, and non-adherence to accounting and procurement procedures as primary issues.[Note14: http://www.auditservice.gov.sl/report/assl-auditor-general-report-ebola-phase-2.pdf],[Note15: http://www.parliament.gov.sl/Portals/0/2014%20DOCUMENT/COMMITTEE/PAC/EBOLA%20REPORT%202015.pdf]   

The Sierra Leone government joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2006 to bring more accountability to the largest economic sector.[Note16: Sierra Leone Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, http://www.sleiti.gov.sl/index.php/about-sleiti/backround] In 2013, the government published the Agenda for Prosperity (A4P) 2013-2018, outlining specific actions the government will take to support middle income status attainment, such as diversifying economic growth, promoting women’s empowerment and public sector reform.[Note17: The Agenda for Prosperity, The Government of Sierra Leone, http://www.undp.org/content/dam/sierraleone/docs/projectdocuments/povreduction/undp_sle_The%20Agenda%20for%20Prosperity%20.pdf ] That same year parliament also passed an Access to Information Act.[Note18: The Rights to Access Information Act, http://www.sierra-leone.org/Laws/2013-02.pdf] In 2014, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development published a three-year public financial management strategy to support a stable economic infrastructure.[Note19: Sierra Leone PFM Reform Strategy, 2014-2017, https://psru.gov.sl/sites/default/files/Sierra%20Leone%20PFM%20Reform%20Strategy%202014-2017_0.pdf]

In an effort to promote socioeconomic transformation following the Ebola crisis, the government initiated the President’s Recovery priorities in July 2015, a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving healthcare, education, social protection and private trade.[Note20: The President’s Recovery Priorities, http://www.presidentsrecoverypriorities.gov.sl/overview] [Note21: Government Budget and Statement of Financial Policies for the Financial Year 2016, http://www.parliament.gov.sl/dnn5/Portals/0/2014%20DOCUMENT/BUDGET/2016%20BUDGET%20SPEECH%20AND%20BUDGET%20PROFILE.pdf]  Later in 2016, the parliament passed a Public Procurement Act, enhancing the act passed in 2004 through additional regulations and decentralising the public procurement process.[Note22: The Public Procurement Act, http://sierra-leone.org/Laws/2016-01.pdf] Furthermore, a new constitution is in the process of being endorsed through a citizen referendum, and the 2018 elections will be the country’s fourth routine elections since the end of the conflict.[Note23: Mohamed Gibril Sesay, Sierra Leone: Democracy and Political Participation. A Review by AfriMAP and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Open Society Foundations, January 2014.]

2.2 Scope of Action Plan in Relation to National Context

Compared to the previous action plan, the current plan has several commitments that address specific social issues such as gender violence, waste management and climate change.

Issues covered by commitments also include public procurement, open budgeting activities and tracking court cases. While the action plan covers the areas relevant to the national context, the commitments often include activities or targets that had already been achieved prior to the action plan period, diminishing their overall potential impact for change.

The action plan includes publication of information about Ebola donor funds and increasing the rates for implementation of audit recommendations. While these areas are important given the allegations of misappropriation of Ebola funds, the action plan did not address project implementation of these funds when it comes to financing social sector services.

None of the three previous commitments related to the extractive industries were carried forward into this plan. According to the OGP Coordinator, the extractives industries issues were not raised by either civil society or government agencies; and therefore were not included in the action plan.[Note24: IRM researcher’s interview of OGP Coordinator, 11 December 2017.] According to a member of the national steering committee, extractives issues from the previous action plan were not proposed because government was not seen as committed to deliver on them.[Note25: IRM researcher’s interview of the Programme Manager, Network Movement for Justice and Development, 16 October 2017.] Only records management and tracking audit recommendations within government departments were adjusted and carried forward in the second action plan.

The majority of the commitments focus on access to information efforts and are limited in their activities related to citizen engagement. In the opinion of the researcher, the action plan could have incorporated other OGP values of civic participation to enhance delivery of public services. Given the continued corruption issues, the action plan could have included commitments specifically related to public accountability to provide more oversight to government actions.


III. Leadership and Multistakeholder Process 
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The OGI conducted wide-ranging consultations in the development of the action plan including in-person meetings, surveys, radio discussions and social media. The OGP Secretariat drafted the commitments with inputs from CSOs and various government agencies involved, and the multi-stakeholder Steering Committee finalised the plan. It is unclear how and to what extent public feedback was incorporated into the development of the commitments. There is a concern among some CSOs that the steering committee is not representative of all voices in civil society and that its minutes are not published.

3.1 Leadership

This subsection describes the OGP leadership and institutional context for OGP in Sierra Leone. Table 3.1 summarizes this structure while the narrative section (below) provides additional detail.

Table 3.1: OGP Leadership

1. Structure

Yes

No

Is there a clearly designated Point of Contact for OGP (individual)?

 

 

Shared

Single

Is there a single lead agency on OGP efforts?

 

 

 

 

Is the head of government leading the OGP initiative?

 

2. Legal Mandate

Yes

No

Is the government’s commitment to OGP established through an official, publicly released mandate?

 

X

Is the government’s commitment to OGP established through a legally binding mandate?

 

X

3. Continuity and Instability

Yes

No

Was there a change in the organization(s) leading or involved with the OGP initiatives during the action plan implementation cycle?

 

X

Was there a change in the executive leader during the duration of the OGP action plan cycle?

 

X

 

The Coordinator for the Open Government Initiative (OGI), in the office of the President, leads Sierra Leone’s OGP process. There are additional staff dedicated to OGI, including a Program Manager and Communications Officer. OGI is not an institution established by an act of Parliament, and therefore has few legal powers over other government agencies to enforce policy changes. The OGP Secretariat serves as the focal liaison between government agencies and civil society and reports to government and other stakeholders on the implementation of the national action plan. The mechanism established by the OGP Secretariat for this facilitation and coordination is a Steering Committee. For the financial year 2017, Government allocated 222,400,000 Leones for OGP Initiatives. The amount was roughly USD30,000 at the time. (See Table 3.1 on the leadership and mandate of OGP in Sierra Leone.)

The leadership for OGP in Sierra Leone remained the same as during the first action plan, but there were changes made to the Steering Committee. When it was first established in 2014, the 34-member Steering Committee had equal representation of government agencies and civil society. Following the completion of the first action plan, the OGP Secretariat re-organised the Steering Committee and brought in a representative from each of the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to the OGP Secretariat it was carried out in the hope that the two representatives would provide technical backstopping and strategic support to ensure timely implementation and effective monitoring of commitments across the implementing agencies”.[Note26: Invitation letter from OGP Coordinator, dated 10 August 2016, for the Steering Committee certification ceremony and cocktail event. ]  

3.2 Intragovernmental Participation

This subsection describes which government institutions were involved at various stages in OGP. The next section will describe which nongovernmental organizations were involved in OGP.

Table 3.2 Participation in OGP by Government Institutions[Note27: Ministries of Finance, Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, Youths, Water Resources, Information and Communication, Social Welfare, Tourism, Education, Marine Resources, and Mines, Performance Management and Service Delivery, National Revenue Authority, Anti-Corruption Commission, National Archives, Road Maintenance Fund, Development Assistance Coordinating Office, National Registration Secretariat, and Environmental Protection Agency. Legislative: Parliament. Judiciary and quasi-Judiciary: Judiciary and the Police. Sub-national: Freetown City Council. Autonomous bodies: National Election Commission and Audit Service ]

How did institutions participate?

Ministries, Departments, and Agencies

Legislative

Judiciary (including quasi-judicial agencies)

Other (including constitutional independent or autonomous bodies)

Subnational Governments

Consult: These institutions observed or were invited to observe the action plan but may not be responsible for commitments in the action plan.

24

1

0

0

0

Propose: These institutions proposed commitments for inclusion in the action plan.

24

0

1

2

0

Implement:  These institutions are responsible for implementing commitments in the action plan whether or not they proposed the commitments.

24

0

1

2

1

 

In Sierra Leone, participation in OGP was limited mainly to agencies in the executive branch of government. The participating agencies were involved in the development and implementation of all the commitments. Table 3.2 above details which institutions were involved in OGP.

The OGP Secretariat involved government agencies in the meetings to guide the making of the second national action plan, as well as to support the development of the timelines for consultations. In a press release advertising the consultations the office of the President called on all ministries, departments and agencies to work together and effectively participate in the process. According to the coordinator of the OGP, other efforts to inform the public of consultations timelines included radio announcements.[Note28: IRM researcher’s interview of OGP Coordinator, 11 December 2017. ] According to the OGP Secretariat, it intended for a diverse range of stakeholders to participate at all stages of the process.

From the interviews conducted with six government officials by the researcher, no agency reported being involved in selecting the commitment focus areas. Once the OGI identified the commitment topic areas, they presented the outline at a multi-stakeholder meeting. At that time, government agencies contributed the technical details and activities for each commitment. Commitments became finalised through the two multi-stakeholder meetings that were held. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the details of the commitment on climate change directly to the steering committee, while multiple stakeholders influenced commitments related to elections, access to justice, and waste management. Civil society proposed the commitments on gender, fiscal transparency, and open data. Although the Parliament was consulted, it did not suggest any commitments. The police was the only quasi-judicial agency that contributed the technical details and activities for the commitment on gender. Nine of the 10 commitments are led by agencies in the executive branch of government, and one by a sub-national government. 

3.3 Civil Society Engagement

Sierra Leone used a mixed of approaches to educate and get citizens’ inputs into the second action plan. The first public education effort and initial call for citizens’ inputs was made at a conference. The OGI hosted a booth at the Datafest organized by the government’s Right to Access Information Commission on 20-21 April 2016. As witnessed by the researcher, email and telephone contacts of the OGP Secretariat, flyers and other informational materials were given out to members of the public at the booth for them to make inputs. On 20 May 2016, the Office of the President made an official announcement for the commencement of consultations on the second action plan. Following the announcement, float parades were held in the three headquarter cities of the country’s four regions.[Note29: They are the northern, southern, eastern and western regions. ] Consultations in the form of town-hall meetings were also held in the regional headquarter cities of the northern and southern regions, and in a town outside the capital, in the western area. In the capital city of the eastern region, a float parade was not held due to civil disturbances there on the date planned.

CSOs participated in numerous Steering Committee meetings influencing the timelines for the consultations, offering ideas for awareness raising on the second action plan, providing inputs made by members of the public and proposing additional commitments. Many of the CSOs involved in the first action plan participated in developing the second plan. Continuing CSOs included organisations such as Network Movement for Justice and Development, Campaign for Good Governance, Center for Accountability and Rule of Law, Society for Knowledge Management, National Youth Coalition, Federation of Civil Society and Media, and Society for Democratic Initiatives. According to one civil society representative, the Steering Committee expanded to include new organisations, particularly those based in local communities so as to get “more actors involved in OGP discourses and dissemination”.[Note30: IRM researcher’s interview of John Momo (NMJD), 13 October 2017 ]

The OGP Secretariat aimed to have an inclusive consultation process on the second action plan by providing the timelines for the public consultations, indicating dates, time and places advertised in various newspapers, radio and television.[Note31: A hard copy of Independent Observer newspaper of 27 May,2016. ] The OGI ensured that civil society organisations from various parts of the country that were not part of the Steering Committee had an opportunity to attend other multi-stakeholder meetings. The OGI held consultation meetings in three regions and opened them to local community people, traditional leaders, women, and community-based groups. OGI also hosted discussion sessions at local radio stations so people were able to call and make contributions. During the consultations and awareness-raising activities, the visiting OGI team also conducted surveys in the area to get more people to make inputs into the second action plan, although it is unclear how the team specifically incorporated the responses. A review of the attendance lists for the stakeholder meetings shows that a diversity of city-based non-governmental organisations, community-based groups, women’s associations, trades groups, disabled persons and others took part. However, an event cancellation in the eastern region meant that people there did not get the chance to have in-person consultations. According to the OGP Secretariat, a meeting was held with relevant institutions in the private sector to discuss inputs into the second action plan, but the sector did not propose any commitments.[Note32: OGP Secretariat, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sierra-leone-natioal-action-plan 2016-2018]

The OGP Secretariat accepted calls for direct submissions to feedback throughout the consultation period. Public could also make suggestions and contribute to the discussions via social media. The OGP Secretariat published a list consisting of 220 individual submissions.[Note33: http://www.ogi.gov.sl/report/INDIVIDUAL%20COMMENTS%20ON%20THE%20NATIONAL%20ACTION%20PLAN.pdf] The suggestions included calls for comments on sexual and gender violence, waste management, education, electricity, civic education, access to information, and access to justice.[Note34: Ibid.] Sexual and gender violence, waste management and access to justice were incorporated into the action plan.

According to the OGP Secretariat, they have incorporated the initial inputs made by ordinary citizens during the Datafest and throughout the course of the consultations into the action plan.[Note35: Sierra Leone’s second national action plan, page 16.] Although the OGP Steering Committee discussed public feedback, it was ultimately left to the particular agency to edit the commitment language to incorporate the responses.[Note36: IRM researcher’s interview of OGP Coordinator, 11 December 2017.] It is unclear how the agencies incorporated specific public feedback.

 

The OGP Secretariat introduced the topics being considered for the commitments at a presentation by the head of the civil society organisations, Budget Advocacy Network, at a multi-stakeholder meeting. The areas included climate change, open contracting, fiscal transparency, public records and archives, audit recommendations, foreign aid transparency, and extractive industries transparency.[Note37: Report of the consultative meeting on OGP action plan’s 1 and 2, 8 June 2016, at ogi.gov.sl ] The OGP Secretariat requested that civil society organisations and government agencies develop details of commitments they would want to have from the proposed areas. According to key CSO leaders interviewed, civil society suggested six commitments including those on public procurement, open budget, auditor general’s report, waste management, elections, and foreign aid.[Note38: The representatives of BAN, CGG, NMJD and Transparency International confirmed this in IRM researcher’s interviews with them.] According to one civil society leader, CSOs worked with government agencies to develop the details of the commitments to ensure practicality.[Note39: IRM researcher’s interview of the Executive Director of Transparency International, 6 November 2017.] The OGP Secretariat finalised the wording of the language of the commitments on public procurement, open budget, auditor general’s report, waste management, elections, and foreign aid, which were later approved by the Steering Committee.

Countries participating in OGP follow a set of requirements for consultation during development, implementation, and review of their OGP action plan. Table 3.3 summarizes the performance of Sierra Leone during the 2016-2018 action plan.

Table 3.3: National OGP Process

Key Steps Followed:  7 of 7

Before

1. Timeline Process & Availability

2. Advance Notice

Timeline and process available online prior to consultation

Yes

No

Advance notice of consultation

Yes

No

 

 

3. Awareness Raising

4. Multiple Channels

Government carried out awareness-raising activities

Yes

No

4a. Online consultations:     

Yes

No

 

 

4b. In-person consultations:

Yes

No

 

5. Documentation & Feedback

Summary of comments provided

Yes

No

 

During

6. Regular Multi-stakeholder Forum

6a. Did a forum exist?

Yes

No

6b. Did it meet regularly?          

Yes

No

 

 

After

7. Government Self-Assessment Report

7a. Annual self-assessment report published?        

Yes

No

7b. Report available in English and administrative language?

Yes

No

 

 

7c. Two-week public comment period on report?

Yes

No

7d. Report responds to key IRM recommendations?

Yes

No

 

X

 

X

                 

 

Table 3.4: Level of Public Influence

The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP.[Note40: 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 input
During development of action plan
During implementation of action plan
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

 

 

3.4 Consultation During Implementation

As part of their participation in OGP, governments commit to identify a forum to enable regular multi-stakeholder consultation on OGP implementation. This can be an existing entity or a new one. This section summarises that information.

The Steering Committee that was set up during the first action plan cycle continued to be the forum for consultations on the implementation of the action plan. The committee was updated in several ways. First, the OGP Secretariat excluded government agencies not involved with current commitments despite previous involvement and then brought on board new agencies involved in current commitments. The Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of Internal Affairs joined the Steering Committee.[Note41: Statements made by the OGP Coordinator and a representative of the Cabinet Secretariat at the Steering Committee meeting of 14 November 2016, attended by the researcher.] Civil society organisations (CSOs) also participated in the Steering Committee, many continued from the previous action plan. These organisations included Campaign for Good Governance, Society for Knowledge Management, Network Movement for Justice and Development, and Budget Advocacy Network. During the development of the action plan, the Steering Committee expanded to include additional CSOs involved in current commitments. The Steering Committee also aimed to broaden the discussion by including several community-based groups.[Note42: IRM researcher’s interview of John Momo (NMJD), 13 October 2017] For the implementation of every commitment, CSOs are identified as “others involved”, however, no details have been given as to what the involvement would be. In the course of implementing the commitments, no roles were assigned to CSOs. A CSO committee was formed in an effort to monitor the implementation of the commitments. The Budget Advocacy Network took leadership of this and produced a report on the monitoring exercise.[Note43: Information provided by BAN via email and given by participants at the civil society stakeholder forum of 20 October 2017; and “The Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan Implementation Status-Score Card (June 2016-July2017).]

During the implementation of the action plan, the OGP Steering Committee scheduled monthly meetings. All civil society representatives on the committee interviewed, however, told the researcher that the meetings were irregular. When asked, the Secretariat acknowledged that Steering Committee meetings were irregular, mainly due to constraints of funds. However, according to the Secretariat, telephone and online platforms remained open for conversation on the implementation of the action plan.[Note44: Email reply of 23 October to researcher’s questions.] The OGP Secretariat restricted Steering Committee meetings for invitation only to all CSOs in the Steering Committee.

When meetings took place, stakeholders freely discussed the progress of commitments. The Steering Committee meetings were always open to the IRM researcher, but the researcher only attended one meeting in 2017. The OGP Secretariat does not publish notes or minutes of the Steering Committee meetings. Some civil society leaders told the researcher that there are organisations in the Steering Committee that do not have the capacity and credibility to be critical of government. A civil society representative on the Steering Committee showed the researcher evidence of a representative of one such organisation posting partisan campaign messages on Whatsapp for the ruling party’s candidate for president in the 2018 elections.

3.5 Self-Assessment

The OGP Articles of Governance require that participating countries publish a self-assessment report three months after the end of the first year of implementation. The self-assessment report must be made available for public comments for a two-week period. This section assesses compliance with these requirements and the quality of the report.

The government published a self-assessment report in October 2017. As at the end of October, the OGP Secretariat had not released the report to the public for comments. Civil society organisations at the Sierra Leone stakeholder forum said they had not seen the self-assessment report, and, therefore, have not been able to comment on it.

The self-assessment report covered all the commitments in the action plan. The report narrated consultation efforts carried out during the development of the action plan. The report did not include a review of consultation efforts during implementation of the action plan.[Note45: Ogi.gov.sl/report/OGP%20ASSMENT/%20REPORT%20217.pdf] The report had problems with description of results, statements of completion level, and next steps. For example, the self-assessment report says that development assistance data was published on DACO’s website but DACO does not have a website. Five of the commitments that were given substantial completion levels had no completed milestones. While the government’s self-assessment report says completion of the commitment is “substantial” for the commitment on budget openness, nothing is indicated as a completed activity. Another problem with the report is that the statement of next steps is either ambiguous, insufficient or absent. Evidence including documents, participants’ lists and pictures were not provided to the researcher to support the self-assessment.

3.6 Response to Previous IRM Recommendations

Table 3.5: Previous IRM Report Key Recommendations

Recommendation
Addressed?
Integrated into Next Action Plan?

1

Work with independent bodies to introduce commitments that would strengthen integrity and independent oversight of corruption prone areas.

2

Get the implementing government institutions more involved with the OGP as insiders.

3

Include local government commitments in the next action plan.

4

A final review of the Extractives Industries Revenue Act, involving stakeholders

X

X

5

Complete implementation of the commitment on audit recommendations and access to information regulations.

 

 

The government addressed and included four out of the five recommendations in the action plan. This action plan has a commitment on access to justice, which includes an activity related to the publishing of cases to help citizens track progress. During this action plan, government agencies provided additional details to specific commitments and the OGP Steering Committee incorporated more government agencies throughout the process. Waste management in Freetown brings a local government commitment. The fifth recommendation of completing the audit and access to information regulation is partially addressed. The current action plan has a commitment that continues activities not completed in the audit recommendations. The government did not take additional measures regarding the Extractive Industries Revenue Act. Neither the OGP point of contact nor civil society leaders interviewed on the issues could say why these important commitments were not taken forward to the second action plan. 


IV. Commitments 
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All OGP-participating governments develop OGP action plans that include concrete commitments over a two-year period. Governments begin their OGP action plans by sharing existing efforts related to open government, including specific strategies and ongoing programs.

Commitments should be appropriate to each country’s unique circumstances and challenges. OGP commitments should also be relevant to OGP values laid out in the OGP Articles of Governance and Open Government Declaration signed by all OGP-participating countries.[Note46: Open Government Partnership: Articles of Governance, June 2012 (Updated March 2014 and April 2015), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/attachments/OGP_Articles-Gov_Apr-21-2015.pdf]

What Makes a Good Commitment?

Recognizing that achieving open government commitments often involves a multiyear process, governments should attach timeframes and benchmarks to their commitments that indicate what is to be accomplished each year, whenever possible. This report details each of the commitments the country included in its action plan and analyzes the first year of their implementation.

The indicators used by the IRM to evaluate commitments are as follows:

·       Specificity: This variable assesses the level of specificity and measurability of each commitment. The options are:

o   High: Commitment language provides clear, verifiable activities and measurable deliverables for achievement of the commitment’s objective.

o   Medium: Commitment language describes activity that is objectively verifiable and includes deliverables, but these deliverables are not clearly measurable or relevant to the achievement of the commitment’s objective.

o   Low: Commitment language describes activity that can be construed as verifiable but requires some interpretation on the part of the reader to identify what the activity sets out to do and determine what the deliverables would be.

o   None: Commitment language contains no measurable activity, deliverables, or milestones.

·       Relevance: This variable evaluates the commitment’s relevance to OGP values. Based on a close reading of the commitment text as stated in the action plan, the guiding questions to determine the relevance are:

o   Access to Information: Will the government disclose more information or improve the quality of the information disclosed to the public?

o   Civic Participation: Will the government create or improve opportunities or capabilities for the public to inform or influence decisions?

o   Public Accountability: Will the government create or improve opportunities to hold officials answerable for their actions?

o   Technology & Innovation for Transparency and Accountability: Will technological innovation be used in conjunction with one of the other three OGP values to advance either transparency or accountability?[Note47: IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/IRM-Procedures-Manual-v3_July-2016.docx]

·       Potential impact: This variable assesses the potential impact of the commitment, if completed as written. The IRM researcher uses the text from the action plan to:

o   Identify the social, economic, political, or environmental problem;

o   Establish the status quo at the outset of the action plan; and

o   Assess the degree to which the commitment, if implemented, would impact performance and tackle the problem.

o   Starred commitments are considered exemplary OGP commitments. In order 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.[Note48: The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information,  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.

Based on these criteria, Sierra Leone’s action plan contained no starred commitments.

Finally, the tables in this section present an excerpt of the wealth of data the IRM collects during its progress reporting process. For the full dataset for Sierra Leone and all OGP-participating countries, see the OGP Explorer.[Note49: OGP Explorer and IRM data, bit.ly/1KE2WIl]

General Overview of the Commitments

The commitments in the action plan cover a diverse range of areas. Compared to the previous cycle, the second action plan covers new areas such as gender-based violence, climate change, waste management, elections and access to justice.

All 10 commitments are relevant to OGP values but only two out of 10 are clearly relevant to civic participation, while the rest focus on expanding access to information in the relevant policy areas.


V. General Recommendations 
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While the commitments cover relevant policy areas in the country, they are oriented towards outcomes that mostly improve access to information and do not sufficiently engage with the public. The next action plan needs to address OGP principles of civic participation and public accountability through inclusion of commitments on public service delivery and anti-corruption measures.

This section aims to inform development of the next action plan and guide completion of the current action plan. It is divided into two sections: 1) those civil society and government priorities identified while elaborating this report and 2) the recommendations of the IRM.

5.1 Stakeholder Priorities

The priorities of civil society stakeholders regarding the action plan are the completion of the commitments on foreign aid, open contracting and climate change. The commitments on foreign aid and open contracting are given priority, according to stakeholders, to continue to support the fight against corruption in the country. In the wake of the mudslide in September 2017 that killed more than 1,000 people, participants at the stakeholder forum say citizens now need to be more involved in transparency and accountability on environmental issues; hence the need to complete the commitment on climate change.

For the next action plan civil society participants, including non-governmental organisations and community-based groups at a stakeholder meeting organised by the researcher, say they would like to see commitments on local government finance, implementation of the Records and Archives Act when passed into law, and annual disclosure of assets owned by public officials. They also expressed concerns that the allocation of development grants to local government was being subjected to political considerations, hence the need for greater transparency. According to these stakeholders, including the implementation of the Records and Archives Act in the next action plan would help the overall environment for the public right to access information.

1.2  IRM Recommendations

1. Harness the contribution of civil society beyond membership of the Steering Committee

In working with civil society organisations, government should focus on those that have the resources to make meaningful contributions. Such resources include capacity and known presence in communities. The government needs to harness contributions of civic groups outside of the Steering Committee that can push OGP issues in their projects and programmes and query government in the implementation of commitments.

2. Improve inter-governmental coordination on OGP, regularly report on implementation of commitments

Given that several commitments had activities completed prior to the start of the action plan, the government needs to consider better coordination efforts to ensure that there is no overlap of activities carried out by different agencies. Each commitment should have clearly intended outcomes and should not include activities that have already been completed prior to the action plan.

The OGP Secretariat should devise a system for government agencies to periodically report on the implementation of commitments, whether or not they attend Steering Committee meetings. Government should work to publicly report in a systematic and periodic way on the implementation of commitments, including specific milestones achieved, challenges faced and next steps.

3. Consider including commitment on transparency of extractive industries, with the focus on disclosure of contracts

Transparency in the extractives remains a significant issue in Sierra Leone. Future commitment in this area can help with fiscal transparency, by including some of the commitments from the first action plan that were not carried forward in the second plan. Although the country is EITI-compliant, there is still a need to pass the EITI bill as it can mandate full disclosure of information around mining contracts. Commitments can also address the need for disclosure of all investments and contracts in the extractive industries, including the investors and value of deals undertaken.

4. Consider commitments on citizen engagement in budget tracking and monitoring of public service delivery

According to the latest Open Budget Survey, Sierra Leone has few opportunities for the public to engage in the budget process and there is weak legislative oversight during the budget cycle. The next action plan could include commitments that entail greater budget transparency through formal structures for civilian monitoring, tracking and oversight, of the budget as well as government revenue collection, allocation and spending. One area where this can be tested is access to health - a commitment can be made around tracking how much money is disbursed from the centre to local communities and disclose how these funds are used in the communities.

5. Include commitments on enforcement of anti-corruption measures

Sierra Leone has legislation on disclosure of assets owned by public officials, but the declarations are not made public. The government and the Anti-Corruption Commission need to consider enforcing and publishing declarations of wealth by state and public officials.

Judiciary needs to consider providing information around court cases, both by the Judiciary and the ACC. The ACC can publish online details of cases received, numbers that are investigated, and their outcomes, such as which cases result in convictions, out of court settlements, fines etc. The judiciary should publish the outcome of cases that have to do with key issues of contestation in Sierra Leone; these include land as well as cases involving citizens against state officials.

Table 5.1: Five Key Recommendations

 

1

Harness the contribution of civil society beyond membership of the Steering Committee

2

Improve inter-governmental coordination on OGP, regularly report on implementation of commitments

 

3

Consider commitments on transparency of the extractives industry, with the focus on disclosure of contracts

4

Consider commitments on citizen engagement in budget tracking and monitoring of public service delivery

5

Include commitment on enforcement of anti-corruption measures


VI. Methodology and Sources 
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The IRM progress report is written by researchers based in each OGP-participating country. All IRM reports undergo a process of quality control to ensure that the highest standards of research and due diligence have been applied.

Analysis of progress on OGP action plans is a combination of interviews, desk research, and feedback from nongovernmental stakeholder meetings. The IRM report builds on the findings of the government’s own self-assessment report and any other assessments of progress put out by civil society, the private sector, or international organizations.

Each IRM researcher carries out stakeholder meetings to ensure an accurate portrayal of events. Given budgetary and calendar constraints, the IRM cannot consult all interested or affected parties. Consequently, the IRM strives for methodological transparency and therefore, where possible, makes public the process of stakeholder engagement in research (detailed later in this section.) Some contexts require anonymity of interviewees and the IRM reviews the right to remove personal identifying information of these participants. Due to the necessary limitations of the method, the IRM strongly encourages commentary on public drafts of each report.

Each report undergoes a four-step review and quality-control process:

1.     Staff review: IRM staff reviews the report for grammar, readability, content, and adherence to IRM methodology.

2.     International Experts Panel (IEP) review: IEP reviews the content of the report for rigorous evidence to support findings, evaluates the extent to which the action plan applies OGP values, and provides technical recommendations for improving the implementation of commitments and realization of OGP values through the action plan as a whole. (See below for IEP membership.)

3.     Prepublication review: Government and select civil society organizations are invited to provide comments on content of the draft IRM report.

4.     Public comment period: The public is invited to provide comments on the content of the draft IRM report.

This review process, including the procedure for incorporating comments received, is outlined in greater detail in Section III of the Procedures Manual.[Note153:  IRM Procedures Manual, V.3 : https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/irm-procedures-manual]

Interviews and Focus Groups

Each IRM researcher is required to hold at least one public information-gathering event. Researchers should make a genuine effort to invite stakeholders outside of the “usual suspects” list of invitees already participating in existing processes. Supplementary means may be needed to gather the inputs of stakeholders in a more meaningful way (e.g., online surveys, written responses, follow-up interviews). Additionally, researchers perform specific interviews with responsible agencies when the commitments require more information than is provided in the self-assessment or is accessible online.

As sources of information, the IRM researcher interviewed key informants, held one civil society stakeholder meeting and reviewed literature. Key informants interviewed included civil society and government agencies representatives on the OGP Steering Committee, other officials from government agencies directly and indirectly involved with commitments and CSOs who are not in the Steering Committee. All interviews took place after the government released the Self-Assessment report in October 2017. 

The stakeholder meeting held in the capital city on 20 October 2017 brought together participants from organisations that were involved with the OGP and others that were not; to discuss how the action plan has been implemented, and give views on the initial findings of the researcher and the government self-assessment report. The meeting discussed the extent of consultation on the development of the action, the nature and extent of consultation during implementation, and the initial findings from the researcher and government’s self-assessment report. Discussions were held on the country context to guide the recommendations made. It was the consensus or dominant opinions from participants in the stakeholder meeting and key informant interviews that the IRM researcher presents as stakeholder views.

Literature reviewed included documents held by government agencies directly related to a commitment, and online documents generated by government institutions, and international and local organisations.

This table shows the institutions the stakeholders represented in interviews and at the stakeholder meeting.

No.

NAME

INSTITUTION

DATE

1

Abu Bakarr Kamara

Coordinator, Budget Advocacy Network

Email response of 5 November 2017 to researcher

2

Abdul Salim

Head-Climate Change Secretariat, Environmental Protection

19 October 2017

3

Abdulai K. Jalloh

Institute for Governance Reform

20 October 2017

4

Amie Dumbuya

Managing Director, Masada Waste Management Company

  6 November 2017

5

Elizabeth Turay (Ms)

Head of Gender and Hospitality, Sierra Leone Police

15 October 2017

6

Frederick Conteh

Good Shepard Development Minstry

20 October 2017

7

Gibrilla Murray-Jusu

Chief of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, National Electoral Commission

19 October 2017

8

Hamida Karim

Programme Manager, Open Government Partnership

Email response of 23 October 2017 to researcher

9

Marcella Samba-Sesay (Ms)

Chairman, National Elections Watch

6 November 2015

10

Jalikatu Cotay (Ms)

Director, Center of Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty Alleviation

17 October 2017

11

James Lahai

National Elections Watch

6 November 2017

12

John Momo

Network Movement for Justice and Development

16 October 2017

13

Joseph Dumbuya

Registrar, Legal Aid Board

20 October 2017

14

Khadija Sesay (Ms)

Coordinator, OGP Secretariat

11 December 2017

15

Kawusu Kebbay

Director, Development Assistance Coordinating Office

4 October 2017

16

Lavina Banduah (Ms)

Executive Director, Transparency International-Sierra Leone Chapter

6 November 2015

17

Martin Sandy

Information, Education and Communication Officer, Audit Services

3 October 2017

18

Mohamed J. Musa

Head of Procurement Capacity Building, National Public Procurement Authority

4 October 2017

19

Muniru Kawa

Private Consultant, Records and Archives Management Improvement

29 November 2017

20

Paul Luseni

Programme Officer, Center for Accountability and Rule of Law

6 November 2017

21

Princess Massaquoi (Ms)

Programme Officer, Campaign for Good Governance

20 October 2017

22

Sahr S. Ansumana

Citizens Budget Watch

20 October 2017

23

Tanu Jalloh

Executive Director, Open Budget Initiative

28 November 2017

24

Tiana Alpha (Ms)

Women in the Media-Sierra Leone

20 October 2017

25

Umaru Bangura

Executive Director, Society for Knowledge Management

20 October 2017

26

Umu Kabia (Ms)

Peace Africa Alliance, Consulting, Education and Training Center

20 October 2017

 

About the Independent Reporting Mechanism

The IRM is a key means by which government, civil society, and the private sector can track government development and implementation of OGP action plans on an annual basis. The design of research and quality control of such reports is carried out by the International Experts Panel, comprised of experts in transparency, participation, accountability, and social science research methods.

The current membership of the International Experts Panel is

·       César Cruz-Rubio

·       Mary Francoli

·       Brendan Halloran

·       Jeff Lovitt

·       Fredline M'Cormack-Hale

·       Showers Mawowa

·       Juanita Oalaya

·       Quentin Reed

·       Rick Snell

·       Jean-Patrick Villeneuve

A small staff based in Washington, DC, shepherds reports through the IRM process in close coordination with the researchers. Questions and comments about this report can be directed to the staff at irm@opengovpartnership.org