October 11, 2011Matthew Olivier
By James Elrick, FreeBalance
It’s interesting how when I came across the Sierra Leone OGI, I first thought that it was similar to the OGI currently going on in the USA. As I read the Sierra Leone OGI material, I realized the differences, the similarities, and also understood the importance of what the Government of Sierra Leone wants to achieve with the initiative.
For any government, transparency is critical. For the initial phase of the Sierra Leone OGI, which ran from September 2008 – December 2009, the focus was to increase accountability and transparency of the three branches of government (Executive, Parliament and Judiciary) by enhancing the visibility of these institutions, and fostering two-way communications.
The Presidency, relevant Ministers, Members of Parliament and the Judiciary visited districts throughout Sierra Leone to have face-to-face discussions with the people of Sierra Leone. During the initial phase, the OGI used a mix of electronic and traditional media. The first phase was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
As described as one of the outcomes: “The project also provides the government an opportunity to receive feedback on its performances. Overall, it is hoped a more people-centered governance will lead to a deepening of democracy and trust in the governance authorities.” The UNDP delivered a report at the end of the initial phase.
The good news is that there is now a second phase to the OGI, and that the government has recently implemented a Citizen’s Report Card (CRC) Survey. The second phase aims to increase more civil education channels which will link government and the people through local councils by providing them enough information about the basic features of a democratic political system.
The purpose of the recently announced CRC Survey is to enhance democratic participation through soliciting user feedback on the performance of public service.
The OGI expects the CRC to empower citizen groups to serve as watchdogs in monitoring the delivering of government services. The survey should identify weaknesses in the delivery system and include ideas for improvement.
The collected data will be reviewed by media partners, and the data analysis and report writing will be performed by an independent agency to ensure transparency and proper oversight.
According to a newspaper article: “This survey is already scheduled for November 7 – 21, 2011 in the entire districts and chiefdoms nation wide. The survey intends to administer thirty (30) questions questionnaires which will be based on the issues of implementation of the “Agenda for Change” programme to twenty respondents per chiefdom including the Western Area Rural district and the Western Urban with 120 respondents (40 West, 40 Central and 40 East) totaling 3,180 respondents’ nation wide.”
Learn more information about the Sierra Leone OGI and CRC Survey >>
FreeBalance and the Government of Sierra Leone have been working together since 2005. During that time, FreeBalance has worked with the government to improve Public Financial Management (PFM) services, provide good governance, improve accountability, and increase transparency.
Using the FreeBalance Accountability Suite, a GRP system, Sierra Leone reduces processing times, maintains monthly reconciliation of all bank accounts, prepares timely annual accounts, provides useful reports for management decision-making, and deters fraud by improving the security and availability of a complete audit trail.
Combined with the Government’s OGI efforts over the last four years, and the CRC report card survey, the Government of Sierra Leone continues to modernize, reform and improve transparency.
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