In my last article on e-government, I defined and discussed e-government and the stages involved in achieving it, according to the studies by the United Nations, The World Bank, Gartner Group, et al. I also referenced Liberia’s ranking in the 2014 UN E-government Survey based on what is considered the country’s de facto national website: e-Mansion.Gov.Lr. I then went on to list the benefits of e-government as well as its advantages and disadvantages. In today’s article, I shall discuss Liberia’s e-government initiatives; tasks and activities that are being or have been implemented to ensure the materialization of e-government in Liberia.
Ostensibly, this article is not an exhaustive review of Liberia’s e-government initiatives. It would take more than a newspaper article to expound on the all of Liberia’s e-Government initiatives. But the intent here is to provide insight into the progress being made by the Government of Liberia or GoL, to transform the way it delivers services and information to “consumers of public administration” (Citizens, Businesses, Government entities, Government employees). In the following paragraphs, I briefly discuss the GoL’s Enterprise Architecture Framework, ”Draft E-Government Strategy”, Chief Information Office (CIO), CIO Regime, The Project Management Office (PMO), the .Gov.Lr second level domain policy, the role of our funding partners and the planned Shared Services Center (SSC).
• Enterprise Architecture: Enterprise Architecture or EA, provides a “blueprint” for a systematic and consummate way of defining an organization’s current (baseline) and its desired (target) environment. EAs are necessary for the evolution of information systems and the development of new systems that optimize the mission of an organization. There are plethora of EA frameworks but four of them are widely used. These four most popular frameworks are: the Zachman Framework (taxonomy), The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) which espouses a process, the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) which is a methodology, and the Gartner Enterprise Architecture framework which espouses a “practice.”
• Liberia’s EA framework is based on the Federal Enterprise Architecture, used by United States Government to unite its myriad agencies and functions under a single common and ubiquitous enterprise architecture. Even though this framework is ideal for Liberia, much has not been done in terms of operationalizing it. For example, a Chief Architect is required to lead a team of Enterprise Architects, but there is neither a Chief Architect, nor a team of Enterprise Architects. Hopefully in the future we will have one put in place.
• E-Government Strategy: Liberia has a “Draft e-Government Strategy that is currently requires Cabinet endorsement. The e-Government strategy is a guide to shows us “where we are currently”, “where we ultimately want to be”, and “what we need to do to reach there.” The strategy is in fact a milestone in the evolution of e-Government in Liberia. The strategy outlines five key elements: Citizen-Centered, Efficiency, Productivity, Infrastructure, and Governance. In addition, ten key outcomes that are necessary for the achievement of the strategy’s vision are also suggested. These outcomes will be discussed in a subsequent article on the “Draft e-Government Strategy.” The strategy also listed twenty three targets/projects that are to be implemented by stakeholders of the Liberian Government. These projects will also be discussed in a subsequent article.
• eLiberia: An official Government of Liberia web portal is being developed to provide a “one-stop shop” for the delivery of services and information to “customers of public administration.” This initiative is currently at “Phase I” of the e-government development life cycle.
• Chief Information Office, R.L.: The Chief Information Office headed by the Chief Information Officer, was established through a mandate of the National Telecommunications and ICT Policy 2010-2015. The CIO is the “governing” arm of the e-Government programs. The CIO is responsible for the identification of e-government projects for implementation by the Project Management Office (PMO). The Chief Information Office is currently located at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
• CIO Regime: The CIO Council or Regime which needs to be finalized, consists of CIOs or IT heads of the various Ministries Agencies, Commissions/Corporation (MACs). The structure for the CIO Regime has been put in place and is pending action by the Civil Service Agency (CSA) and other stakeholders.
• Project Management Office: The Project Management Office or PMO is the office mandated by the National Telecommunication and ICT Policy 2010-2015 to implement all GoL’s e-government programs as identified by the Chief Information Office. The PMO is a new unit within the Department of Technical Services and ICT at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
• .Gov.Lr Domain Policy: The Policy developed by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications requires all Government of Liberia Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions/Corporations (MACs) to utilize the official second level domain of the Liberian Government which is the .Gov.Lr domain (i.e.: www.MoPT.Gov.Lr). Currently, this is being managed by the Chief Information Office, through the Chief Information Officer, Republic of Liberia. Sadly, though, there are still many MACs that yet to adopt this standard. We refer to those sites as “non-standardized website.”
• Shared Services Center: A Shared Services Center (SSC) is to be built with the assistance of the USAID-GEMS. Shared services are cost-efficient because they centralize back-office operations that are used by multiple agencies of Government and eliminate redundancy. The SSC will be used for finance, human resources management (HRM) and information technology (IT) and other e-government programs. Its delivery model will allow each MAC to focus its limited resources on activities that support its business goals. The purchase of the equipment (servers, computers, power back-ups, etc.) for the SSC is being done by USAID-GEMS and management of the center will be done by GoL IT staff through the Chief Information Office and the Project Management Office.
• Funding Partners: Our funding partners have played a significant role in the development of our ICT sector and in particular, our e-Government Programs. For example, USAID-GEMS has been has been providing assistance in the development of the e-Government strategy, the enterprise architecture, the Government ICT Handbook and many other ICT and e-government projects. On the other hand, the World Bank, through WARCIP-Liberia which is being managed by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), has been very resourceful in ensuring the GoL e-government programs are a reality. It is responsible for the setting up of the Project Management Office (PMO) at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications as well as the development of the country’s national web portal; a one stop-shop for the delivery of government services and information to citizens, businesses, government itself and government employees. Other funding partners have been involved in one way or the other. Due to space limitations, I cannot list them all.
Finally, I am aware that I may have omitted a lot of Liberia’s e-government initiatives, but the ones listed above are major achievements that the GoL has made through the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MoPT), Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) and LIBTELCO. There is still a lot more to that needs to be done in order to achieve an ideal e-government environment. But for now, this is what we have achieved and hopefully we will continue making progress for the improvement of the sector, the government, and the country.