Why did you choose to work on open parliament? What are the most important open parliament issues that you tackle through your work?
The Government of Sierra Leone has demonstrated a strong desire to implement Open Government Partnership (OGP) Commitments, as demonstrated through the National Council for Civic Education and Development identifying and adopting OGP as a strategic pillar. Yet the Sierra Leone Parliament is not playing a key role within the OGP process. It is assumed that without Parliament’s commitment and support in the process it will be challenging for many of the OGP commitments to be fully implemented and there will continue to be challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The most important Open Parliament issues range from citizens access to information, engagement, and a voice to feedback. For instance, Parliament has very limited platforms to engage with citizens and CSOs and the Parliament is yet to provide annual reports on their operations to demonstrate leadership in accountability and transparency as regarding tackling corruption. This has changed overtime, in December 2019, Both the Speaker and Clerk of Parliament published its first annual report to the public in an open day event supported by WFD and the EU. The Parliamentary app also increases participation of citizens into parliamentary processes and proceedings.
What are the key lessons that you have learnt through your experience working on open parliament at the national level?
At this point, I will consider it to be both learning and exciting, Parliament shares so much enthusiasm in the open parliament process whilst the executive supposes less. Considering Parliament’s oversight responsibilities, I personally feel that Parliament will share a lot more in this space independently when they would have got the relevant resources to thrive.
- As an independent player in the OGP process, thereby maintaining its own “OGP Parliamentary Action Plan”. This breathes its natural autonomy to hold the executive accountable and scale up its relationship with the CSOs as stakeholders that provides oversight to its OGP process.
- I have learnt that the selection process of MPs into the OGP working Group in Parliament should be done based on their professional and passionate background (expertise) in the key transparency areas.
What were the greatest achievements of the national open parliament process? What are your expectations regarding the work currently taking place?
Currently, Parliament has scored the highest in terms of implementing its commitment. Being the youngest partner in the room and moving this fast is a strong sign of commitment to the process. Parliament has completed 70% of its commitments started on the NAP 3. The process has increased the awareness of Members of Parliament on the role of the OGP in promoting transparency and accountability in the work of Parliament.
The Clerk of Parliament is the Secretary to the OGP Parliamentary Working Group. This shares the level of commitment to ensure the implementation of the NAP 3 actions. The development of the Parliamentary Mobile App increases the legislative’s voice in transparency and citizens involvement. With the App Citizens now have access to their Members of Parliaments, access real-time information on legislative proceedings and laws that have been passed.
On the expectation side, we want to see Parliament become a more open, responsive democratic institution with increased Civil Society’s engagement. The following are expected progress markers:
- Parliament working group commits to conduct oversight on the implementation of the National Action Plan
- Parliament implements and monitors the developed mechanisms for citizens participation in the legislative and budgeting process.
- Parliament to produce annual reports on all its activities in an accessible format (including special needs groups) and publish in the parliamentary website.
- Parliament to hold consultations and hearings with Civil Society Organizations on the budgeting process, implementation, critical public policy issues and the Auditor General’s Report for constructive inputs and feedback.