Mentoring for Open Contracting Research

On 24 June 2020, Step Up Strategy Advisor Michael Canares facilitated a research presentation of seven researchers from Notre Dame of Marbel University who used open contracting data to analyse procurement performance of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato. Mr. Canares led a team of mentors who trained and coached the researchers in undertaking research projects on public procurement. The project, dubbed as the First South Cotabato Open Contracting Research Challenge, was implemented by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines with funding support from HIVOS.

The research projects were as follows:

Team 1-Forecasting Contractors’ Slippage for Infrastructure Projects in South Cotabato, by Cubort Bulanon and Chucky Marie Fernandez

Team 2- Finding Areas Underserved by High Schools in South Cotabato Using Network Analysis by Elisha Alvarado

Team 3 – Analysing Cost Efficiency of Procurement by Lot, by Michelle Capistrano

Team 4 – Profiling Contractor Performance of Contractors in the Province of South Cotabato, by Denver John Acebedo, Neiljan Raborar, and Fritz Tuazon

The research teams were identified in February this year and were trained through a Research Boot Camp held in General Santos City on March 11-13, 2020. The researchers then conducted research implementation from March to May this year, despite the pandemic. Luckily, the province of South Cotabato was least affected by COVID 19, allowing the researchers to conduct field implementation using both offline and online means.

Mr Canares mentored Teams 3 and 4, while Team 1 was mentored by Layertech Software Labs CEO Frei Sangil and Team 2 by Ben Hur Pintor, geospatial generalist, open-source and open data advocate, and maptivist.

Step Up Strategy Advisor is M&E Advisor for Vanuatu Roads Project

Image courtesy of Adam Smith International

Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor at Step Up Consulting is part of the implementation team of the Roads for Development Program Phase 2 (R4D2) currently implemented in Vanuatu by Adam Smith International, with funding support by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

R4D2 will support the Government of Vanuatu’s Public Works Department (PWD) under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU).  The program commenced in June 2019 and will run to the end of June 2022, with an option to extend by two years, subject to DFAT approval. The program aims to contribute to the achievement of the Government of Vanuatu’s (GoV) National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2030 (NSDP) goals, more particularly the following:

  • A dynamic public sector with good governance principles and strong institutions delivering support and services to all citizens of Vanuatu
  • Sustainable and well-maintained infrastructure and services for all, through inclusive and effective partnerships

Mr. Canares is R4D2’s short-term Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser.

Step Up Designs and Facilitates First South Cotabato Open Contracting Challenge

Transparency in the procurement process and in the implementation of procurement contracts is one of the principles enshrined in Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act)  alongside the principles of competitiveness, public monitoring, accountability, and streamlined procurement process. In promoting transparency in government procurement activities, government agencies are mandated to publish all bid opportunities and post all awards and contracts in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).  

However, public access to contracting information from planning up to implementation is limited. Most contracting documents are not published online and are being kept internally by agencies. The current version of the PhilGEPS does not have information on the planning and implementation stage. This situation makes tracking and monitoring of government projects difficult, which in turn makes government procurement activities susceptible to fraud, collusion, and corruption. 

With support from HIVOS, the https://southcotabato.gov.ph/Provincial Government of South Cotabato in partnership with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines implemented an open contracting program in order strengthen transparency and accountability in local procurement systems in the province of South Cotabato.  This culminated with the publication of local procurement activities in a centralized portal in compliance with the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). 

To cultivate use of open contracting data, ECCP desires to build capacity of prospective users in understanding public procurement as well in using contracting data for various purposes, including research.  ECCP partnered with the Notre Dame of Marbel University (NDMU) to cultivate awareness and appreciation of teachers and students on the importance of public procurement and in using contracting data in academic research.

Two training programs were conducted to prepare proponents for the open contracting research  thinking through research topics.  The first one conducted last 2 February 2020 and focused on the discussion of open contracting and its value in promoting transparency and accountability, as well as improving public service delivery.  The second training, conducted on 15 February 2020, focused on cultivating use cases and enabling the participants to start thinking about potential research projects on open contracting.   

After the two trainings, participants we asked to submit proposals for the 1st South Cotabato Open Contracting Challenge.  Three proposals were received were the following:

  1. Forecasting Contractor Performance Using Non-Parametric Models by Cubort Bulanon and Chucky Marie Fernandez
  2. Citizen’s Project Monitoring Management System by Rodulfo Dorado and Elisha Susana Alvarico
  3. Cost-Efficiency of Procurement by Lot by Michelle Capistrano, Jennifer Era, and Rean May Galang

On March 11-13 2020, the proponents were invited to a BootCamp designed by Step Up Consulting’s strategy advisor, Michael Canares. He was joined by mentors and facilitators Ben Hur, Frei Sangil, and Vien Suerte to help polish and finalize the research proposals for implementation. The research outputs will be presented in June 2020.

Step Up Completes Regional Cultural Hub Feasibility Study

Step Up Consulting recently completed the feasibility study of establishing a regional cultural hub for the Visayas. The research seeks to determine the viability and sustainability of a permanent center and venue of productions and creative enterprises in the Central Visayas region.

The feasibility study focused on the five key aspects – market, technical, organizational, financial and socio-economic feasibility. Conducted in 2019, it involved different approaches: a combination of survey, focus group discussion or key informant interview, ocular inspection and site visits, and evaluation of documentary evidence.

The research team of Step Up is composed of Michael Canares, Jean Celeste Paredes and Mary Therese Pepito with the support of Marilou Sale. It was funded through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts managed by the Bohol Integrated Development Foundation.

Step Up Attends Outcomes Harvesting Workshop and Data Security Training

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Step Up Research Manager, Jean Celeste Paredes, attends the Outcome Harvesting Workshop and Data Security training organized by HIVOS last October 15-17, 2019 at the Bellevue Hotel, Ortigas.  The activity is part of the series of activities that HIVOS offer to its partners in the Philippines.

Outcome Harvesting is an evaluation approach in which evaluators, grantmakers, managers and staff identify, formulate, verify, analyse and interpret ‘outcomes’ in programming contexts where relations of cause and effect are not fully understood. Through Outcome Harvesting, organizations collect (“harvest”) evidence of what has changed (“outcomes”) for HIVOS grantees, and then, working backwards, determine whether and how HIVOS interventions (grant allocation and linking and learning) have contributed to these changes.

On the other hand, the Digital Security Training aims to introduce and understand the communications model as a framework for digital security and to identify areas how each partner, including Step Up Consulting, can strengthen digital security within each  organization.

The training was attended by HIVOS partners in the Philippines, including LayerTech Labs, Bantay Kita, CODE-NGO, among others.

Step Up Conducts Training of Trainers on Local Road Asset Management

ToT for LRAM

Step Up Consulting facilitated the conduct of a Training of Trainers on Local Road Asset Management (ToT on LRAM) sponsored by the United Nations Development Program‘s Roads2SDGs Project in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government.  The ToT on LRAM was held at the Bellevue Resort – Bohol  last August 19-23 2019.

The training gathered together close to 20 experts that are envisioned to become a resource pool for local road asset management in the country. The training aimed to enable the participants to (1) understand the basic principles underpinning the Local Road Asset Management (LRAM), as well as the different processes in ensuring that local government units achieve better road service delivery for its constituents; (2) learn the necessary knowledge and skills in rolling-out the local road asset management manual to local government units; and (3) realize the importance of asset management principles and practices to properly manage local road assets. 

The ToT was designed to enable participants to actually design and implement LRAM training sessions for local government officials.Those who performed well in the ToT will be asked to apply their skills in an upcoming run of the LRAM for provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Step Up Conducts Project Development and Management Training for Iloilo LEIPOs

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The Provincial Government of Iloilo, through its Local Economic Development and Investment Promotions Center, invited Step Up Consulting to train more than 40 of its Local Economic and Investment Promotions Officers (LEIPOs) on project development and management. The training, which was held at the Century 21 Hotel in Iloilo City last 29-30 July 2019, aimed to build the capacity of the LEIPOs in applying project management and development concepts to local government projects and initiatives.

More specifically, the training aimed to enable the LEIPOs to understand, define, and clearly explain what is project development and management; understand the role of project managers, specifically in the local government scenario; identify the key activities in the project life cycle; learn the knowledge areas of project management, and identify what strategies can be used in each project management knowledge area; and know what is a project charter and how to develop one for their own projects in each LGU.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates ASEAN Workshop

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Supreme Audit Institutions (ASEANSAI) and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) held a joint conference last 26 February 2016 with the theme “Laying the Foundation for Future Cooperation in Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the ASEAN”.

The workshop was held at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel, Indonesia and was attended in by almost 100 participants from 14 countries coming from within and outside the ASEAN. Mr. Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting was hired by GIZ to help design and facilitate the whole day event.

The event was spearheaded by ASEANSAI, a relatively young regional organisation of ten audit offices in the ASEAN region and supported by GIZ.  The event intended to bring together the three organizations  (ASEAN, ASEANSAI and AIPA) to explore more coordinated framework for future joint action and inter-agency collaboration for fostering state-society relationships in ASEAN, including efforts towards Good Governance, transparency and accountability.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates Local Road Asset Management Workshop

consultative workshop - Roads2SDGs

Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting Services, facilitated the Local Road Asset Management Workshop for the United Nations Development Program’s Road 2 SDGs project, an initiative that it implements with the Department of Interior and Local Government.  The workshop is part of a series of activities lined up for the year in order to increase the capacity of local government units in the country in local road asset management.

The workshop was held on 19 February 2019 at B Hotel in Quezon City and was attended by key stakeholders from the national government agencies, namely, the Commission on Audit, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and other representatives as the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines, and UNDP.

The activity is part of UNDP’s efforts to strengthen infrastructure governance in the country to hasten the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as infrastructure is a key component in service delivery, impacting different SDG targets.

At the beginning of the project, it  was  found  that  provincial  local government  units need to improve their governance systems in road asset management and maintenance. Data  has  shown  that  not  all  provincial  roads  and  bridges  are  booked  as  assets,  and  life  cycle management of roads is generally not evident. This situation also has direct implication on the weak financial  management  of  PLGUs  related  to  local  roads.

Thus,  an  integral  component  of  the governance reform on local road management is on road asset management. UNDP recognizes its role  to  deliver  capacity  development  interventions,  through  knowledge  products  and  training activities that will ultimately result to a better system of PLGUs’ governance in relation to road asset management.

 

Step Up Trains DILG Region VII on RBM

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Step Up Consulting trained officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government – Region VII, on the basics of Results-Based Management.   The training intended to enable the participants, largely coming from the agency’s project development and management units (PDMU) in the Central Visayas region, to understand the basic concepts and principles of RBM as a tool in project development and management, practice the use of the RBM tools using case studies,  and craft a plan of action in mainstreaming RBM practices with Region VII’s project development, monitoring, and evaluation practices.

The training was attended by the regional PDMU office, including the provincial PDMUs of Bohol, Siquijor, Cebu, and Negros Oriental. The training was held on March 13-15 at Golden Prince Hotel and Suites in Cebu City.  It made use of a combination of adult-learning exercises, games, and case studies.

The participants expressed gratitude to the training team of Step Up Consulting for effectively carrying-out the learning exercises.