The Independent Information Commissioner (“Commission”) was established under the Freedom of Information Act as a self-regulating oversight body responsible for overseeing implementation of, and compliance with the FOI Act; the Act authorizes the Commission to receive, hear and decide all complaints as well as mediate disputes including serving as the sole quasi-judicial forum to hear and decide all appeals from denials, adverse decisions or failure to respond to FOI requests. The Act further provides, amongst other things, that the Commission shall enjoy operational, investigatory and regulatory autonomy, and general independence in the exercise of its work, and with express authority “to develop access guidelines and procedures in connection with the discharge of its statutory functions
ValuesStructure of the IICOpportunitiesActivities
Core values of the IICThe values of an organization influence the way in which it works and with time, those values contribute to the organization’s culture and identity which makes it different from other institutions. Through a consultative process, the following core values were identified in pursuit of the mission: - Impartiality: The Commission will not engage in any form of double standard or discriminatory practice in dealing with the public. - Independent: Even though the Commission is a government establishment, it will demonstrate a high level of independence in its relationship with different actors. - Approachable: The Commission will exhibit a friendly posture at all times in dealing with the public. - Responsive: The Commission will endeavour to respond to complaints in a timely manner to build public trust in its work. - Proactive: The Commission will adapt a proactive stance in its operations by reviewing existing laws to determine their relevance in the enforcement of the Act. - Discipline and professionalism: One of the hallmarks of a successful team is the level of discipline among its members. The Commission will ensure that discipline and professionalism are reflected in its work. - Transparency and accountability: As an integrity institution, the Commission will be open in the manner in which its operations, both administrative and financial, are carried out. - Teambuilding: The Commission will invest time, energy and resources in building a team that will be able to reach consensus on critical issues, communicate effectively both internally and externally and to engender a spirit of collegiality among its members.
Institutional ArrangementThe enforcement of the FOI law will be led and managed by the Information Commissioner (IC) with support from a Technical Secretariat. The Secretariat will be composed of four departments with equal operational status but having different numbers of staff in each department and also a Program Unit within the office of the Information Commissioner, each reporting to the IC. The departments include the following: Administration and Finance: This department will be responsible for developing budgets, managing financial transactions, compiling financial reports and ensuring that logistics and other administrative documentations are in place. The department will be headed by an Administrator, supported by a Finance Officer and a Procurement Officer. Compliance/Enforcement: This department will be legally oriented, undertaking research to review existing laws, providing legal advice to the IC, drafting opinions/decisions, and making legal representations on behalf of the Commission to defend its actions or ensure compliance. This department will also be charged with the responsibility of developing a system to record all complaints and establish a database to track the number of complaints received, actions taken, actions pending, and results of actions taken. Outreach and Sensitization: This department will be responsible to perform two basic functions linked to stakeholders’ engagement. The first is to interface with government agencies and institutions to ensure that they understand the FOI law. The second is to carry out awareness and sensitize public servants and the general public on the mandate of the Commission as well as to provide skills to citizens on how they can access the FOI law in terms of the procedures and steps. Documents and Records: The primary responsibility of this department is to catalogue, create inventory and preserve all records of complaints received and handled, annual reports of the IIC as well as other annual reports so that they are easily accessible by the public.
OpportunitiesWhile it may be true that the Commission does not have the budgetary allotment to make the office fully operational, such as hiring staff to fill all key positions, opportunities exist both internally and externally that the Commission can leverage in support of its work. Civil society is engaged with the FOI law: Liberian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have formed a coalition with support from their international partners to work on the implementation of the FOI law. The Commission will collaborate and build synergy with CSOs particularly in the area of community outreach and awareness. Build partnership with external FOI bodies: There are other FOI Commissions that are functional outside of the West African Region with years of experience that this Commission can learn and benefit from. This Commission will build relationships with external FOI Commissions through which the exchange of ideas and best practices can take place. The Commission has already engaged external FOI bodies from Scotland, England and India and will improve upon these relationships. Donors are interested in the work of the FOI Commission: There are donors in the country, such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), and the Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA), which have demonstrated interest in the work of the Commission through their support to national and international civil society organizations that are working on FOI issues. These and other donors, supportive of the Commission’s work, will be engaged to explore areas of potential partnership and financial resources to strengthen the capacity of the Commission. Such partnerships will broaden the resource-base of the Commission. International NGOs have interest in the sector: The implementation of the FOI law and its impact on the country’s democratic process is of interest to several international non-governmental organizations. In addition to its close and ongoing collaboration with the The Carter Center, the Commission will seek other partnerships to support the effective implementation of its mandate. The existence of other government commissions: The work of other independent commissions such as the Law Reform Commission (LRC), Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) and the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC) has direct bearing on the mandate of the FOI Commission. The mandates of those Commissions may be different, but there will be avenues where collaborative efforts can be forged with those Commissions to maximize the impact of the work of the (IIC). Academic and think tank institutions: Academic institutions and other think tank groups undertake research to contribute to reform processes and the formulation of policies. The IIC will also be undertaking legal research for similar purposes so it will be important to build linkages with such institutions for the sharing of knowledge and expertise.
Major ActivitiesEstablish procedures for enforcement: One of the tasks of the Commission is to enforce the FOI Law and this can be done by establishing procedures for receiving, reviewing and resolving cases. This process will be led by the Compliance and Enforcement Officer with administrative and technical support from the Commissioner. Training for IC staff: The execution of the FOI law requires specialized skills and the hired technicians will need support in this direction. The Commission will solicit technical assistance from its international partners to provide such specialized trainings. The approach will largely be the combination of hands-on training and mentoring responding to a gap in knowledge and skills of staff of the secretariat. Develop a tracking system: In order to respond to the gradual flow of complaints, a preliminary data tracking system will be established to record all complaints, provide an update on the status of those complaints and the actions that are taken. A catalogue/library of all decisions will be maintained and made available to the public officials and to the general public. This will put the Commission in a position to provide empirical statistics on its operations but to also use the information to make informed decisions and to guide future actions by the government decision-makers and requesters. Install communication facility: As part of its strategy for outreach and to be accessible, a mobile telephone will be installed with an independent number that will be provided to the public for easy access to the Commission.
Meet our team
Mark Bedor-Wla Freeman
Emmanuel D. Howe
J. Budu Wesley, Jr.
Simmie S. Nyanfor, I
Nathaniel T. Vonhm
Joseph F. Kollie
Armah B. Johnson
Danielette E. Doe
Priscilla Yarngo Natt
Public Information Officer (PIO)
Bernard M. Clarke
Miriam Z. K. Utay
Facia B. Harris