Liberia to take digital fingerprints of workers

/ Source: The Associated Press

Civil servants in Liberia will soon be required to submit to digital fingerprinting and eye and face scans — with the government saying it wants to make sure real people are behind the names on the payroll after discovering more than 7,000 "ghost workers."

Civil Service Agency Director-General William Allen told The Associated Press Friday that all civil servants would be required to submit to the scans and their data would be recorded in a central database to root out the practice of one person collecting paychecks under several names.

"The key point is to establish the true identities of people so that once a person tells you (who they are) ... you are sure, you cannot have duplications," Allen said.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came to power in 2006 on a strong anti-corruption platform.

Allen said that when Sirleaf's administration took over in January 2006, there were about 44,700 names listed on government payrolls. After months of investigations, 7,300 names have been removed. About 1,000 of them were people found to have kept collecting pay checks after retiring, while 6,000 others were either pseudonyms adopted by employees or false names never traced to their sources.

"We have been able to clear up some of the ghost names, but we know there are still ghosts on payroll," Allen said.

Liberia, a poor West African nation of 3 million found by freed American slaves in the mid-1800s, was decimated by fighting and unrest between 1989 and 2003.