GAO: Restoring Liberia’s Humanity
An Epochal Transition in Accountability


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 31, 2007


The General Auditing Commission, or better still, the General Accountability Office has three critical, but patriotic duties to accomplish in its quest to ‘remodel’ Liberia and restore the ‘humanity’ of the Liberian people after 14 years of self-inflicted violence—and by extension, after nearly 160 years of lingering under the politics of misrule:

• The GAO will fight FRAUD.
• The GAO will fight WASTE.
• The GAO will fight ABUSE.

These duties or responsibilities are as affordable as they are simple depending on one’s love for country or civic conscientiousness.

As Africa’s oldest republic and champion of the struggle for independence for Black Africa, Liberia, in all honesty, has performed poorly and dismally in leading her brethren to the sanctuary of good governance, improved socio-economic pedestal, wealth distribution and accountability as well as political stewardship.

Our political foundation, though modeled after that of the United States of America, germinated from a loose soil that gave way easily to any torrential force. In the end, those beautiful principles of democracy and African communalism were shelved given way to a system of government that spoke of accountability but encouraged fraud, waste and abuse. These social vices are still well entrenched in our way of life today. Certainly, they were largely responsible for the unprecedented social upheaval we experienced for 14 long years.

With stability and peace in our grasp, we intend to avoid past mistakes. This government says it has no tolerance for fraud, waste and abuse. It stands neck and neck with the international community on issues relating to accountability and transparency. It also fervently supports the empowerment of the General Accountability Office to remain independent, to be well funded, equipped and staffed, and to perform its duties in a congenial, enabling environment befitting its role and importance in Liberia’s reconstruction and development.

The President of Liberia, Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led the fight in 2004/2005 as head of the erstwhile Governance Reform Commission to ensure genuine independence for the GAO, making it amenable and reportable to the National Legislature. It is also in her drive to ensure a fully functioning and capable GAO that she encouraged an unfretted international competitive recruitment process sponsored and headed by the European Union to recruit an independent and capable Auditor General of Liberia, a historic punctuation in Liberia’s 160 year of failed leadership.

The National Legislature has welcomed this positive historical change, moving swiftly to confirm the Auditor General in matters of days, not months. The European Union leading other international partners and the President have remained engaged in revamping the GAO to serve as a genuine instrument of the National Legislature.

The GAO is mandated by law:
• To help the National Legislature provide oversight of public finances, programs and activities as well as to measure government’s performance for yearly appraisal.
• To serve as an accountability arm of government to monitor government entities; to see whether these entities are implementing approved programs effectively, efficiently and economically within the confines of budgetary appropriations.

• To provide time-tested, unbiased and professional opinions, findings or information to government on the effectiveness of internal controls over programs, financial assets and resources in its control.

• To provide reasonable assurance to the Liberian people that information emanating from their government is fairly presented, accurate, objective and timely.

• To restore public confidence in government, again.

• To reassure and win the confidence of Liberia’s international partners, the international community and other stakeholders that the country now has a robust, functioning entity to fight its three cancerous enemies—fraud, waste and abuse, (FWA pronounced, Forward).

While the fight against fraud, waste and abuse is a national effort, a functioning GAO is critical in setting standards by which our national resources can be wisely used and equitably distributed or redistributed.

A revamped GAO will checkmate bad governance practices, make government unprofitable to a growing number of government entrepreneurs,” and hold all institutions to account for public finances, programs and activities.

A robust, impeccable GAO will serve as an ‘ombudsman’ to ensure that public trustees do not pocket public funds, misuse or abuse national resources depriving the real beneficiaries, majority of whom live in hamlets and villages—far removed from the social amenities of Monrovia—in appalling conditions.

The fight against fraud, waste and abuse is Liberia’s last chance at self-reconstruction, at nation building. It is a battle to reconstruct and de-personalize government and its institutions. It is a fight to build institutions for posterity and for our children and children’s children. It is a fair attempt to rebuild Liberia’s image nationally and internationally. It is a battle to ensure that government becomes the least option for profit making!

It is an opportunity to make best practices, rather than the Liberian way, part and parcel of our governing system.

It is indeed a fight to ensure that the Sirleaf led administration succeeds, because the success of her administration means success for every Liberian, poor or rich. The incoming leadership believes fervently that the GAO would have failed if this administration failed.

So failure for this administration is not an option! Hence each Liberian is just a small part of this larger goal.

With support of the government and all Liberians as well as the international community, the GAO stands to fight the nation’s social menaces of fraud, waste and abuse in both the public and private sectors.

Following are recent submissions to the National Legislature of the GAO budget for the remaining fiscal year 2006/2007 and for the fiscal year 2007/2008, communications to the House of Senate and the House of Representatives and a blueprint detailing the GAO strategies.

The presentation of the budget to the National Legislature is unique for it reinforces international best practices. The GAO cannot present its budget to the Executive, sits to debate its submission as it were done in the past and later goes to audit it. Besides, the GAO, by law, will scrutinize every fiscal budget to ensure it is comprehensive in all forms and shapes.

The National Legislature, the President and our international partners have all welcomed the change and have remained engaged.

The incoming management team of the GAO welcomes suggestions in this and other budgetary matters, especially the coming national budget, which will be open for public debate. Please make your suggestions to Members of the National Legislature ensuring that such suggestions are in line with international best practices.

This is indeed an opportunity for all Liberians to remain in engage in Liberian affairs, after all no one can build Liberia but Liberians. Therefore, constructive engagement and critical examination of all issues must be the new “Liberian world order.” There is no better time to engage your government than through the discussion of the various aspects of the National Budget.

Accountability begins with the national budget development and appropriation, wherein every penny is identified, and priorities are aligned, discussed and measured.

Start with the GAO’s budget submission!

Please read on!
• Letter to the House of Representatives
• Letter to the House of Senate
• Detailed PowerPoint Presentation of the GAO’s Budget
• Blue Print—Strategic Plan for the New GAO

© 2007 by The Perspective

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