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Veekie Wilson, Virginia Lighe, Sudacious Varney & Jessica Bimba

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A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Leon Schreiber & Blay Kenyah
Name
Veekie Wilson, Virginia Lighe, Sudacious Varney & Jessica Bimba
Language
English
Town/City
Monrovia
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview Jessica Bimba, Virginia Lighe, Sudacious Varney, and Veekie Wilson explain the process used to remove ghost workers from Liberia's teacher payroll, review qualifications, and test functional literacy in English and math. This exercise began in 2015 with a pilot project and concluded in 2017. The interview briefly discusses the creation of a project implementation unit and then outlines the steps taken to explain the process, identify "ghosts," check qualifications, administer the test, and issue a biometric id. The participants explain the rationale behind several important decisions. They also talk about some of the challenges they faced and how they addressed them. 

 
Full Audio Title
Audio Unavailable

Sudacious Varney

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A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
7
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Leon Schreiber & Blaykyi Kenyah
Name
Sudacious Varney
Interviewee's Position
Project Implementation Unit,
Interviewee's Organization
Ministry of Education
Language
English
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview Sadacious Varney focuses on the management of the payroll audit for the Liberia Education Ministry teaching and vetting project supported by Big Win Philanthropies. 

Profile

At the time of this interview Sudacious Varney was the financial analyst of teacher vetting for the Big Win Project. Prior to working with Big Win, he worked in the private sector for commercial banks in Liberia with numerous roles such as financial analyst, treasury manager, and chief accountant. Mr. Varney earned a  Master's of Science degree in Accounting from the Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK). He also earned a Master's of Business Administration, MBA in Finance, and was a part-time lecturer at various universities. 

Gbovadeh Gbilia

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A
Focus Area(s)
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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Leon Schreiber & Blaykyi Kenyah
Name
Gbovadeh Gbilia
Interviewee's Position
Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development
Interviewee's Organization
Ministry of Education, The Republic of Liberia
Language
English
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, Gbovadeh Gbilia discusses his work on reforming Liberia’s teaching service and expunging ghosts from its payroll. He begins by examining his time as a senior technical advisor at the Civil Service Agency, what he learned there and how he was able to bring lessons from reforms he assisted there to his new role in the Ministry of Education. He goes on to outline the framework of the reform process, with emphasis on how to secure buy-in from governmental stakeholders, reform participants and donors. Throughout the interview, he discusses how his team secured the wins that made the reform relatively successful, and how they overcame the challenges such bold reforms are bound to face.

 

 

Profile

At the time of this interview, Gbovadeh Gbilia had served for nine months as Deputy Minister for Planning, Research & Development in the Ministry of Education under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He led the team that carried out the Teacher Testing and Vetting Program which eliminated more than 1,500 “ghost workers” from the teacher payroll, saving the government a substantial amount of money. Before assuming this position, he was an Assistant Minister for Fiscal Affairs and Human Resource Development at the same ministry, from 2015 to his promotion. He also worked as a senior technical advisor to the director-general of the Liberian Civil Service Agency from 2013 to 2015. Gbilia earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University and a master’s in international business from the Howard University School of Business in Washington, DC.

Full Audio File Size
76 MB
Full Audio Title
Gbilia Interview

Managing the Business of Education: Liberia Cleans Up Its Teacher Payroll, 2015–2017

Author
Leon Schreiber with assistance from Blaykyi Kenyah
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In late 2015, Liberia’s newly appointed education minister, George Werner, recognized that the government school system was wasting money and failing its students. Shortly before Werner assumed office, a pilot project had identified significant numbers of ghost workers (teachers who never showed up for their jobs or were fraudulently included on the payroll) as well as teachers who lacked even basic qualifications. Although the project covered just three of Liberia’s 15 counties (the most populous counties of Montserrado, Nimba, and Bong), the findings illuminated a long-standing national problem. Resolving to put an end to the abuses, Werner and senior ministry officials created a program implementation unit dedicated to the nationwide project, refined vetting procedures for assessing qualifications, and introduced mandatory competency testing that laid the foundation for additional reforms. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf provided crucial political support when the project ran into resistance from the national teachers’ association. By February 2018, the education ministry had removed 83% of the 2,046 ghost teachers, and planned to remove the remaining 17% that it identified during the last six months of the project. Overall, the project generated $2.3 million in annual savings that opened spaces for new teachers in the school system and budget, with the ministry expecting that this number would increase to $3.1 million once all ghost teachers were gone. As a result of the project, the ministry hired 1,371 trained new graduate teachers. Still, challenges remained: 49% of public school teachers had failed the competency tests. Armed with this important baseline data, the ministry had to decide what to do to improve teacher quality.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study with assistance from Blaykyi Kenyah based on interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia, in August 2017. Case published February 2018.

Filling Skill Gaps: Mobilizing Human Resources in the Fight Against Ebola, 2014-2015

Author
David Paterson and Jennifer Widner
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

At the end of March 2014, the nongovernmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières warned that an Ebola virus disease outbreak on the border between Guinea and Liberia could unleash an epidemic of unprecedented scale. Its capacity still limited after a 14-year civil war, Liberia’s government was struggling to mobilize and coordinate the extra assistance its health ministry needed to respond. How to recruit, train, protect, and pay a labor force that included government employees, temporary workers, and many international volunteers were central concerns. In the best of times, coordinating this kind of skills supply chain would be challenging. But from June to the end of August, conditions became increasingly difficult. As the infection spread, many health workers died. In the absence of facilities and equipment that could provide protection, fear slowed recruitment—a problem made worse by severely constrained medical evacuation services and reduced airline access. Mobilizing personnel to respond raised questions about how to fulfill a duty of care toward employees, adhere to commitments to equality, and promote longer-term institutional sustainability. The Liberian government, UN agencies, and a wide variety of other organizations worked together to identify and deploy essential skills, develop shared practices, and find ways to pay Liberian temporary workers whose support was essential. UN organizations alone recruited and deployed 19,367 staff during the crisis, including Liberians, but questions remained about how to best meet the ethical and practical challenges that arose.

David Paterson and Jennifer Widner drafted this case study with advice from Béatrice Godefroy.

Princeton University’s Grand Challenges program supported the research and development of this case study, which is part of a series on public management challenges in the West African Ebola outbreak response.

 

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (poster infographic)

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (page version)

 

Samuel Johnson & Mary Mulbah

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a
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Blay Kenyah
Name
Samuel Johnson & Mary Mulbah
Interviewee's Organization
National Teachers Association of Liberia
Language
English
Town/City
Monrovia
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Mary Mulbah and Samuel Johnson were teachers’ union leaders at the time of the interview. They explain the basis of their opposition to a ghost-worker removal and teacher certification effort carried out by Liberia’s Ministry of Education in 2017, with support from Big Win Philanthropy. The stated purpose of that program was to improve the quality of education in Liberia’s schools. At the time the project started, the Ministry of Education also launched a separate experimental program with the international for-profit network of schools, Bridge Academies, to manage several model schools. The union opposed the Bridge Academies initiative, and the objections carried over to the program to remove ghost workers and require testing and re-training of teachers some teachers. This interview helps readers understand the teachers’ union view of the vetting program. This interview was edited to reduce repetition and provide clarifying information. 

Full Audio Title
Audio Unavailable

Cleaning the Civil Service Payroll: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2008-2011

Author
Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract
Shadi Baki and Alfred Drosaye confronted a civil service in disarray in 2008, following a devastating 14-year civil war during which 250,000 people were killed, Liberia’s infrastructure was all but destroyed and government services collapsed. Despite the disintegration of the government, the civil service payroll more than doubled to 44,000 from 20,000 before the war, saddling the government with an unaffordable wage bill. Furthermore, the government had little sense of who was actually on the payroll and who should have been on the payroll. Rebel groups and interim governments put their partisans on the payroll even though they were unqualified or performed no state function. An unknown number of civil servants died or fled during the war but remained on the payroll. After delays due to an ineffective transitional government and moderately successful but scattered attempts to clean the payroll, Baki and Drosaye at Liberia’s Civil Service Agency set out in 2008 to clean the payroll of ghost workers, establish a centralized, automated civil service personnel database, and issue biometric identification cards to all civil servants. Cleaning the payroll would bring order to the civil service, save the government money and facilitate pay and pension reforms and new training initiatives. This case chronicles Liberia’s successful effort to clean up its payroll following a protracted civil war and lay the foundation for organized civil service management.
 
Jonathan Friedman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia during December 2010 and on the basis of interviews conducted by Summer Lopez in Monrovia, Liberia during June 2008. Case published October 2011.
 
Associated Interview(s):  Shadi Baki, Alfred Drosaye

Priscus Kiwango

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E
Focus Area(s)
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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Andrew Schalkwyk
Name
Priscus Kiwango
Interviewee's Position
Acting Director of Information Management Systems
Interviewee's Organization
Office of the President, Tanzania
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Tanzanian
Town/City
Dar es Salaam
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Priscus Kiwango describes the challenges, successes and lessons learned from computerizing human resource management systems for the government of Tanzania.  He argues that it is essential to directly involve all the stakeholders, including ministries and other government agencies, in deciding what information is essential.  He says that the main challenge is to manage the vendor who designs and installs the software and to ensure that the vendor is held to clear milestones and standards of performance.  He stresses that vendors should provide on-site technical support and train government personnel to operate and maintain the system.  He describes the steps taken to computerize payrolls in Tanzania and then to computerize human resource management to meet the needs of ministries.  He then outlines the longer-term goals for e-government and government management information systems in Tanzania.    

Case Study:  Creating an Affordable Public Service: Tanzania, 1995-1998

Profile

At the time of this interview, Priscus Kiwango was acting director of management information systems in the Office of the President of Tanzania.  He earned a master's degree from Lancaster University’s Management School.  Prior to joining the government, he worked in the private sector.

Full Audio File Size
59 MB
Full Audio Title
Priscus Kiwango - Full Interview

Alfred Drosaye

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Y
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman
Name
Alfred Drosaye
Interviewee's Position
Principal Administrative Officer
Interviewee's Organization
Liberian Civil Service
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Liberia
Place (Building/Street)
Civil Service Agency
Town/City
Monrovia
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Alfred Drosaye describes the push for pay and pension reform in 2006 after the inauguration of the new president, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson. He talks about the strategies to clear the civil service payroll of ghost workers. He describes the make-up and training of the teams sent into the counties to vet each worker and enroll the workers in the Biometric ID system which, among other benefits, enabled workers to receive pay via direct deposit.

Case Studies: Cleaning the Civil Service Payroll: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2008-2011 and Building Civil Service Capacity: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2006-2011

Profile

At the time of this interview, Alfred Drosaye was the principal administrative officer in the Liberian Civil Service and the project director for the Biometric Program in the Human Resource Management Services Directory of the Civil Service.  His position required him to manage three directories in the civil service: employment, human services management and career and training.  He joined the civil service in 1997 as an analytical secretary and rose to assistant director and then director of Classification Selection Standards.  As the principal director, he was in charge of the review of public employment.

Full Audio File Size
89 MB
Full Audio Title
Alfred Drosaye Interview

Howard Tytherleigh

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A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Summer Lopez
Name
Howard Tytherleigh
Interviewee's Position
IT Consultant, Civil Service Verification Project
Interviewee's Organization
Public Service Reform Unit in Sierra Leone
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
British
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Howard Tytherleigh describes his role in public sector reform efforts in Sierra Leone.  Sponsored by the U.K. Department for International Development, Tytherleigh’s team began a payroll-verification project that involved interviewing all members of the Sierra Leonean civil service.  The aim was to correct the payment anomalies, inefficiencies and abuses that were wasting the government's money. The reform was hugely successful, in large part because of strong communication efforts, effective project management, executive involvement through presidential decree, and stakeholder support.  Tytherleigh emphasizes the importance of stakeholder involvement, technical capability and physical preparedness for the success of the reform effort.     

Profile

At the time of this interview, Howard Tytherleigh was an information-technology consultant for the Civil Service Verification Project of the Public Service Reform Unit in Sierra Leone.  He came to Sierra Leone from England in 2008 through a volunteer position with VSO (Volunteer Service Overseas).  His first project in Sierra Leone was with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and was designed to help develop its communications and IT sectors.  In England, Tytherleigh worked as a contract technical manager. 

Full Audio File Size
37 MB
Full Audio Title
Howard Tytherleigh - Full Interview