Working on Systems Mapping with Indonesia NGO Network

Step Up strategy advisor, Michael Canares, works with Konsil LSM Indonesia (Indonesian NGO Council) on a systems mapping research together with Open Data Lab Jakarta to develop a deep understanding of the systemic challenges in affecting gender-inclusive development in the cities of Jakarta, Banda Aceh, Bandung, and Pontianak in Indonesia.

The  system  mapping  research  consist  of  three  main  components:  1)  desk  research,  2) interviews with key civil society and government stakeholders in each of the target cities, and 3) system mapping workshops. Mr. Canares was engaged by the project implementation team to design the online workshop using different online tools.

Mr. Canares designed the different workshops aimed at (a) identifying and validating priority issues related to gender-inclusive development in each city; (b) recommending strategies or solutions to gender-inclusive development issues in each city and identify ways in which open data can be part of the solution; (c) identifying and prioritizing skills gaps and data gaps needed in implementing the solutions; and (d) identifying key actors and validating coalitions between actors within and inter-city, including support needed to strengthen the collaboration.

The workshops started in June 2020 and will wrap up in the next three weeks.

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 Managing Consultant Attends Global Data Barometer Workshop

global data barometerMichael Canares, Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting is one of the participants (and co-facilitator) of the recently-concluded Global Data Barometer Workshop in Washington DC, USA, last January 9-2020.  The workshop was convened to “bring  together key stakeholders to review the research framework, implementation model and sustainability strategy for a new global study of data around the world, set to release its first edition in 2020/2021.”.

Key organizations that were represented in the workshop were the World Bank, Open Government Partnership, Canada’s International Development Research Center, Open Data Watch, Open Data Charter, Carribean Open Data Institute, Land Portal Foundation, Iniciativa Latinoamericana por los Datos Abiertos, Open Contracting Partnership, among others.

The workshop was held at the GovHub in Washington DC and was organized by Tim Davies. Tim Davies was the research lead of the Open Data in Developing Countries project where Step Up Consulting was one of the grantees from Southeast Asia.

Step Up at the 2019 Annual FOI Awards

awarding FOI
Michael Canares flanked by Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan,  Assistant Secretary Policy, Special Concerns, and Freedom of Information Project Management Office, and Undersecretary George Apacible, Undersecretary for Good Governance, Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Finance during the awarding ceremonies held at the Manila Peninsula Hotel on December 12, 2019.   

Step Up Managing Consultant, Michael Canares, was one of the personalities outside of government recognized in the recent 2019 Annual FOI Awards. His contributions to the Philippine government’s thrust of making government information accessible to the public was a major reason for the award.

Canares has been at the forefront in the advocacy for more transparent and accountable governments in the last five years, starting off with Step Up’s very first research project, “Opening the Gates:  Will Open Data Make Governments in the Philippines More Transparent” a project funded by Canada’s International Development Research Center.  The project was implemented in Bohol, Bulacan, and South Cotabato.  It was followed by  “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data” project implemented in the provinces of Negros Oriental and Bohol.

Since then, Canares has worked in several transparency and accountability projects in the Philippines, including in the areas of open government, open contracting, and more recently, freedom of Information.  Canares leads the  Increasing People’s Access to Public Contracting Information Through the FOI Program funded by HIVOS and implemented in partnership with the Freedom of Information – Project Management Office of the Philippine government.

 

Step Up Consulting Conducts Data Dive on a Global Project on Access to Energy

headingStep Up Consulting signs a contract with a major development organization to conduct a data dive on a global project on access to energy implemented in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  The project aims to provide access to modern energy services across 25 countries. Step Up’s team is composed of the following:

OGP profile picMichael  (Miko) Canares, Team Leader

Miko has 23 years of experience in development work primarily in research, results-measurement, data-driven innovation design, and adaptive management.  He has proven expertise in developing and implementing research projects that use a combination of both quantitative and qualitative approaches and in developing robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks and systems that document and analyse results of development interventions in governance reforms, road asset management, labour market, local economic development and internal audit. In the last five years, he has designed and developed data for development projects in Asia on key topics as open government, open data, digital literacy, and open contracting, and its applications in health, education, and natural resource management.

Awarded as the Philippines’ Most Outstanding Finance Educator in 2010 after 10 years of university teaching, Mr. Canares is a skilled adult-learning facilitator and is engaged to build capacity of international organizations, local governments, and non-profits in research, monitoring and evaluation, and organizational management, including financial management and audit.  His accounting and economics background are very useful in efficiency audits as well as value-for-money measurements.

He has solid experience in working with different stakeholders within and outside of government and is skilled at different approaches in adaptive management and reflexive practice. He is also a published academic, an author of three books to date (accounting, natural resource management, and child-focused development) and different articles in referred journals dealing with topics related to local governance.

freiMaria Jihan (Frei) Sangil, Data Science Lead

Frei worked as a cybersecurity professional in multinational cybersecurity giant Trend Micro, handling research and documentation, production of Level three (highest and most detailed) technical documentation which the teams of support engineers and technical managers refer to in handling customer cases and deployment needs. Example of her cases are Advanced Persistent Threats on large-scale enterprise espionage and breach detection and mitigation, Instant Messaging Security (monitoring) and several other malware and enterprise breach-related cases.

Frei started Layertech as a startup in Hong Kong Polytechnic University Global Innovation and

Entrepreneurship Challenge, with flagship innovation: Mileaf Medical Network. She then she used the same technology to create Balangay: A Cloud Based Information System for Disaster and located in Legazpi City Philippines, wherein she founded a corporation of the same name: Layertech Software Labs, Inc. a private Research and Development Company specializing in data analytics and business process optimization (www.LAYERTECHLAB.com).

Apart from being CEO of Layertech Inc., Frei is practicing as a professional data scientist and analyst, working with government officials, local government units, civil society organizations, the academia, and private businesses and corporations as a consultant on cybersecurity, data processing and analysis, and business process optimization.

icaMaria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez, Development Programming Expert

Born on 14 May 1987, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez is a spatial planner working on the intersections of space, place, culture, sustainability, good governance, and armed conflict.

Ms. Fernandez has spent the last decade specialising in the implementation and evaluation of peace agreements and other issues related to violence, vulnerability, and social cohesion in conflict-vulnerable areas. In the last five years, she has designed and implemented projects related to open governance and open geospatial and statistical data for decision-making in transitional contexts and post-crisis reconstruction.

As a former worker in the Philippine ministry overseeing peace negotiations, Ms. Fernandez presently consults with governments, communities, and international development organisations such as the World Bank, the United Nations, British Council, JICA, and The Asia Foundation. She has a keen interest in interdisciplinary action research, specifically the use of alternative platforms such as visual art, music, movement, and community activities for participatory engagement.

Step Up Attends WIKA Workshop in Germany

wika workshop

Step Up’s Strategy Advisor, Michael Canares, spoke at the recently concluded WIKA-Workshop 2019 that focused on “The Role of Civil Society in Cultural Relations”. The workshop was held at the WeltRaum at the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA) in Stuttgart, Germany on 25-26 September 2019.

The rationale of the workshop is best described by the workshop organizers below:

“Civil society actors are gaining influence and are becoming political change-makers. Their local embedding and engagement at the grassroots level and the strength of internationally working NGOs who use their cross-border cooperation as a means of empowerment make them attractive partners for state-involved actors. The WIKA Workshop seeks to reflect on interdisciplinary topics such as “Cultural Cooperation and Shrinking Spaces”, “Youth as Civil Society Actors” and “Civil Society and Statehood” to relate them directly to fields of action of cultural relations and education policy.”

Mr. Canares presented his work on advancing digital literacy for girls in Indonesia funded by Goethe Institut Indonesien when he was still working as Senior Research Manager of the World Wide Web Foundation stationed at the Open Data Lab Jakarta.  For more details of this work, please visit the lessons learned paper written by Mr. Canares for the Jakarta Lab.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Attends Data Innovation Clinic in Istanbul

11July2019 (7)Michael Canares, Step Up Strategy Advisor, is one of the individual experts invited by the United Nations Development Program Regional Hubs based in Istanbul and Amman to speak and attend in a Data Innovation Clinic held at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus last 9-11 July 2019.

Dubbed as #NextGenUNDP, the data innovation clinic aimed to reflect on data innovation work implemented by UNDP in both regional hubs, introduce approaches, methods, and tools in data innovation, and frame ways forward.  The activity was attended by 47 participants from 16 countries across Europe, Central Asia, Arab States and Africa, with 10 speakers from Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States.

Different topics were discussed during the data clinic. Michael Canares talked about the concept of data empowerment, one of his primary advocacies, while others talked about positive deviance, thick data, artificial intelligence, behavioral insights, big data, satellite data, machine learning, among others.