Liberia is emerging from a 14-year civil war that has left its infrastructure and economy in shambles. Additionally, power struggles during years of conflict have undermined the structure of the government and its ability to effectively manage the country.
An eight-member delegation of Liberian legislators arrived in Atlanta last month to meet with Georgia state legislators and the faculty of UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to enhance their knowledge of effective governance. The legislators, accompanied by members of the Liberia Institute of Public Administration, spent two weeks in Atlanta and Athens.
The Liberian visit was the result of a partnership between the Vinson Institute and LIPA that began in the spring of 2007 with the aim of improving Liberia's public sector. During the project, which was supported by the World Bank, the Vinson Institute and LIPA worked together toward improving training programs for the legislative, executive, and local governments in Liberia.
"Because of the political tumult in my country," explained LIPA director Harold Monger, "nearly all the legislators in the National Assembly are what you refer to here as ‘freshmen representatives.' There is very little experience in the legislature. Our partnership with the Vinson Institute allows Liberian lawmakers to observe and learn about the fundamentals of governing."
The Liberian delegation consulted with Georgia leaders and others involved in state government to gain first-hand insights into the process of writing and implementing budgets. Additionally, they attended seminars presented by CVIOG faculty about fiscal policy.
Representative Emmanuel Nuquay appreciated the opportunity to compare the legislative and budgetary processes from his country with those of Georgia's state government. "We were able to learn a lot about the function of the legislature and its relationship to the executive branch," said Nuquay. "Additionally, we discussed the importance of a competent and qualified staff to enhance the effectiveness of our efforts."
Steve Wrigley, Vinson Institute director, is hopeful that the cooperation between CVIOG and LIPA will facilitate public administration best practices in Liberia's governance. "We welcome the opportunity to share our expertise as they work toward carrying out the principles and process of representative government," he commented.