The Need for Bureaucratic Reform In Liberia

By John F. Josiah, Esq.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 22, 2004

The concept of good governance is very much inter-linked with Institutional efficiency. Institutional efficiency is the hallmark for Public Service Management. With Public Service Management, government machinery becomes cost effective and performance oriented.

The present bureaucratic structure of the government of Liberia demands a critical review for a fundamental reform. A consolidation and a total elimination of certain ministries and agencies are in order to facilitate the promotion of good governance.

Undisputable evidence has shown that a smaller government is much effective and transparent than a large government. There are presently nineteen ministries and a good number of autonomous agencies constituting the administrative branch of the Liberian government. A number of these ministries and agencies can feasibly be consolidated without negatively impacting the functions and services for which they were created.

On the hand, consolidation will enhance the functions of these ministries and agencies. In my view, the present structure poses a serious operational risk. A case in point is the duplication and fragmentation functions of these ministries, i.e., weaken the performance of these various governmental ministries or agencies. For example, there are two government agencies dedicated with the authority to formulate our budget. The Bureau of the Budget formulates the re-current budget while the Ministry of Planning is responsible to prepare the development budget. There are several of other examples to mention but we will not do so for the lack of space.

Prior to the ushering of the next elected government in 2005, the Liberian people owe to themselves an obligation to reform the government in the best interest of all Liberians. It is due to this patriotic obligation that I wish to propose the following changes in the structure of our government:

1. The Ministry of Planning and the Budget Bureau should be consolidated.

2. The complete elimination of the Ministry of Information. This Ministry has detrimentally misinformed our people in the past, and will continue to play this role in the future, if it continues to exit. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the free Press will take charge of informing the Liberian people on government's policies.

3. Remove the price control division from the Ministry of Commerce. In a free market system, prices are control by the forces of demand and supply.

4. Consolidate the Ministry of Youth and Sport with the Ministry of Education.

5. Consolidate the Ministry of Public Works with the Ministry of Rural Development.

6. Consolidate the Ministry of Labor with the Civil Service Agency.

7. Consolidate the Ministry of Agriculture with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).

8. The Complete elimination of the Ministry of Women Affairs. Replace this Ministry with an Independent Commission for Civil Rights. The Civil Rights Commission to be established by a cross section of various professionals, answerable only to the professionals who created the Commission.

9. The creation of a Commission on Corruption and Government Waste; this Commission should consists of a cross section of various professionals, which will be answerable to the professionals who were charged with its creation.

10. Merge the Accounting Office of the Ministry of Finance with the Bureau of General Accounting.

11. All Assistant Ministers Positions be transformed into Technical Directors positions. The Technical Directors positions should be non-political appointments. Recruitment for these positions should be the responsibility of the Civil Service Agency.

About the Author: About the Author: Mr. John F. Josiah is a Public Sector Economist and a lawyer. He resides in the DC metropolitan area.