The USAID/Liberia Governance and Economic Management Support Project (USAID-GEMS) – awarded to IBI International on June 29, 2011 and officially launched in Monrovia on April 5, 2012 – is a 5-year project designed to strengthen human and institutional capacity in the public sector within targeted Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions (MACs) by utilizing in-depth assessments and performance improvement methodologies.
The project’s management and technical teams, in full coordination with USAID/Liberia and its GOL partners, seek to build capacity using a results-driven approach that supports sustainable outcomes in alignment with President Johnson-Sirleaf’s message to the Liberian legislature in 2010.
“Perhaps our greatest fiscal challenge lies in focusing the expenditure of cash inflows from domestic revenue and from donors on established priorities. The better we can manage our public finances, the better we can deliver on our poverty reduction and job creation agenda. This is why we have put much effort into public financial management reform and the building of institutions and human capacities across government”.
To address the GOL’s rapidly evolving social and economic development objectives as articulated in the Agenda for Transformation, Liberia Rising Vision 2030 and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the USAID-GEMS Scope of Work has been modified to align with these priorities.
USAID-GEMS has taken steps to strengthen its capacity building approach through applying, with appropriate refinements, USAID’s Human & Institution Capacity Development (HICD) model to support design of project activities that are aligned closely with the GOL’s National Capacity Development Strategy (NCDS) and that will be sustainable after the end of the USAID-GEMS project.
The high-level USAID-GEMS Steering Committee has adopted the USAID-GEMS technical approach based on three overarching principles:
Institutionalizing Economic Governance and Linking it to Economic Development
The economic governance reform initiatives that USAID-GEMS supports stem from GOL’s guiding framework including the medium-term Economic Growth and Development Strategy under Liberia Rising 2030, the Public Finance Reform Implementation Strategy, the National Capacity Development Strategy, the Civil Service Reform Strategy, and the National Decentralization Policy.
Solidifying Government Ownership of the Reform Process
USAID-GEMS encourages working with established GOL structures to design and implement the desired capacity development initiatives in a collaborative manner, to ensure that initiatives are coordinated in line with GOL’s development framework, to facilitate the sharing of information across the government, and to help maintain GOL ownership of the process and responsibility for its sustainable implementation.
Emphasizing the Use of Liberian Technical Experts
USAID-GEMS is fielding qualified Liberian professionals to fill professional and leadership positions to ensure the creation of a cadre of local professional who internalize, institutionalize, and sustain the capacity development initiatives designed and delivered under USAID-GEMS beyond the life of the project.
The HICD approach will build capacity using a results-oriented approach, whereby participating institutions will develop and maintain systems that increase transparency and accountability, promote efficiency, increase public investment through targeted programs, enhance revenue, and limit opportunities for corruption. Furthermore, the refined HICD framework strengthens USAID-GEMS ability to leverage institutional performance improvement and an enabling environment as the means to support and sustain capacity building.
The modified scope-of-work is guided by Liberia’s development focus areas, and represents three themes, which are consistent with the targeted priorities set forth by the President in her 2012 State of the Nation Address:
• Managing national resources effectively
• Building national wealth
• Promoting equity and youth empowerment
Under the modified approach, USAID-GEMS has identified existing performance gaps and designed solutions packages in the areas of financial management, human resource management, procurement, asset management, informational technology, civil service training, concessions, and national payment systems.