Request to vote for Sierra Leone in the OGP Government Champions Award

We received the request below via email from Lavina Banduah, the Executive Director of TI Sierra Leone. The deadline to vote is October 27! It takes just a moment and supports our friends in Sierra Leone.

Dear Colleagues,

Sierra Leone is in the Semi Finals for the OGP Government Champions Award. Please vote for us using the link below. Sierra Leone is the third of the three boxes.

We need 200 and more votes for us to win we were in second place but now we are last. Only you can make the difference and contribute to make us get there. Vote urgently as the deadline is fast approaching.

Use your phones, ipads, laptops, desktops etc. YOU CAN USE ALL OF THESE DEVICES TO CAST A VOTE. Also inform your colleagues at work, family and friends to vote on this link and send it to them please.

We have worked so hard on the OGP Process in Sierra Leone. We deserve to win.

Thanks for your efforts Regards Lavina

Update: the info about the candidates is a bit sparse on the voting page, but Nathaniel Heller posted a video (whoa - a massive file of 1.6 GB!) and the unedited nomination below on his blog which provide some helpful background. You can also head over to his post to learn about the other two candidates from Georgia and Costa Rica.

Sierra Leone What today is an ambitious and well-deserving OGP Process in Sierra Leone started with doubts and intense pressure between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and government. CSOs working on Governance and economic reforms were determined to push the age old reforms agenda around extractive transparency, access to information and public integrity in governance among others. CSOs saw the OGP process as a welcoming opportunity for accelerating such reforms and making the government more responsive to the needs of its people. The government of Sierra Leone also saw it as an entry point for constructive collaboration between Government and civil society.

The President in a public meeting declared the Open Government Initiative (OGI) and the Millennium Challenge Coordinating Unit (MCCU) to take the OGP process forward a twin approach which was germane, as both agencies under the Office of the President. The Steering Committee established is quite inclusive and participatory.

The NAP development was completed in recorded time with implementation underway on the 30th April 2014. A framework for implementation was established in a highly consultative manner. Engagement has been through clusters set up within the four grand challenges of the OGP and each grand challenge has a civil society and government lead. There was also civil society parallel monitoring of the commitments and a completion of 65 percent of the NAP by September 30th 2015, despite the Ebola Viral Disease which dictates no contacts during the epidemic.

The OGP in Sierra Leone has thrived on a highly consultative process inclusive of religious and traditional leaders, Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAS), CSOs, media and community groups. A group of 17 government and 17 CSOs were in the Steering Committee. The committee is headed by a civil society representative from the interreligious council.

The process of creating the NAP has been intensive; the Steering Committee held weekly meetings since the beginning of March 2014 to April 2014. The process started with sensitization before consultation, an approach which became an innovation in the OGP process. The Steering Committee agreed that the NAP should address three of the OGP’s grand challenges: increasing public integrity, more effective management of public resources, and improving corporate accountability. Nationwide consultations were held in all 14 districts, the challenge of improving service delivery was demanded for by citizens and eventually included. Diaspora Consultations were also done in US, Belgium and UK taking cognisance of the migration nature of Sierra Leoneans and recognising their keen interests in the development of the country. The first NAP in Sierra Leone speaks to 11 bold commitments. Among the core commitments our NAP makes are: developing a public integrity policy; increasing visibility of performance contracts; performing subsequent assessments of key government institutions; and operationalizing the single treasury account by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to improve accountability and management of government accounts. Instituting a culture of delivery and meeting stipulated timelines helped in producing a draft NAP in eight weeks. Sierra Leone endorsed a draft National Action Plan (NAP) for OGP in a ceremony led by President Ernest Bai Koroma having the political buy-in from the highest authority of the state. More than 300 government officials, paramount chiefs, civil society leaders, women and youth groups, attended the ceremony.

It was agreed that a Permanent consultation forum between Government and Civil Society be established taking the form of a hybrid approach. First, the general forum through Monthly Meetings held on the 26th of every month. Next the smaller forum in which a government and CS focal point was to lead each cluster of the grand Challenge covering the commitments of the NAP. Through this model key actors keep the dialogue going and follow-ups made through sectoral interests. The media is also represented at each Steering Committee meeting to report on outcomes.

Sierra Leone recognizes the value inherent in Peer Exchange and Learning. The OGP process also subscribed to this as evident by three study visits tours undertaken namely: the European Regional Meeting in Dublin Ireland, London in Britain and Manila in Philippines. The aim was to ensure preparedness of the OGP management team in Sierra Leone and the Steering Committee as a way of benchmarking best practices in the OGP process.

Despite funding challenges the OGI has been instrumental in coordination and the MCCU has helped in technical backstopping with the Steering committee executing major decisions. The Sierra Leone model could best be described as a multi-stakeholders Consultation Platform for dialogue scrutiny and action. The OGP Process in the first year in Sierra Leone has been a good example of Government Civil Society complementarity backed by checks and balances for appropriate decisions and action. Sierra Leone CSOs therefore nominates the Office of the president for this award for the innovation of a twin leadership of the OGP and how government has worked with CS.