Michael Canares, Step Up’s Strategy Advisor, was the keynote speaker of the PICPA-UAE sponsored leg of the 2020 PICPA Middle East E-Conference held last 14 August 2020 via Zoom. Mr. Canares spoke about the topic, “Thriving in The Current Normal: Agility and Adaptability During Times of Uncertainty”, to over 150 attendees.
His key messages focused on the following key points:
Point 1: The PANDEMIC affects ALL OF US. But it will not affect EACH ONE OF US IN THE SAME WAY.
Point 2: Our AGILITY and ADAPTABILITY matters.
Point 3. The PANDEMIC invites us to REINVENT OURSELVES.
The training started off with an online survey and pre-test of all 30 participants, half of which come from Siquijor and the other half from Bohol. The survey intended to gauge the knowledge and skills of participants in local road asset management while at the same time collect their views and expectations of the training. The results of the survey were used by the learning facilitator, Mr. Michael Canares, in designing the course content and schedule.
The first session was successfully conducted last 29 July 2020. The second session will be conducted on 6 August 2020. In the meantime, participants are busy completing their Session 1 post-test and their work assignments that include the preparation of asset booking requirements and definition of service standards and road sub-sector performance targets.
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.
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.
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:
Forecasting Contractor Performance Using Non-Parametric Models by Cubort Bulanon and Chucky Marie Fernandez
Citizen’s Project Monitoring Management System by Rodulfo Dorado and Elisha Susana Alvarico
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.