Step Up Completes LDN Internal Audit Strengthening Contract

Mentoring sessions with LDN Internal Audit Team.
Mentoring sessions with LDN Internal Audit Team.

The Provincial Road Management Facility engaged Step Up Consulting to coach or mentor the Provincial Internal Audit Office (PIAO) of Lanao del Norte in order to strengthen the capacity of PIAO in three areas – conduct of audit engagement, audit report writing, and audit compliance monitoring system. The Step Up team was composed of Managing Consultant Michael Canares and Alvin Luis Acuzar, Learning Manager.

The mentoring process involved  a combination of the following: (1) On-site mentoring consisting of a three-day theory-building exercise with concrete application on the audit of one priority risk area of the Provincial Engineer’s Office of Lanao del Norte.; and (2) and online mentoring on the actual engagement process and the writing of audit report. For this purpose, Step Up made use of Facebook as an online mentoring platform.

As a result of the engagement, the PIAO of the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte was able to prepare its first Audit Engagement Plan which documents the planned, strategic, objective-based approach in conducting the audit of the Provincial Engineer’s Office. Conducting the audit activities based on planned work program is just part of the audit fieldwork process. The critical and important part is the audit documentation process through the preparation of working papers that became the basis in the preparation of audit findings and recommendations. The internal audit office was able to show improved competence both in the area of audit evidence-gathering and audit documentation. Finally, based on the results of the fieldwork as documented by the working papers, the Internal Audit Office was able to prepare audit findings and recommendations.

According to PIAO chief Chirelyn Leopoldo, the mentoring approach used by Step Up Consulting enabled them to learn audit concepts and apply them in actual work situations.  As a result, they were able to complete a full audit cycle and prepare the audit report which they have recently presented to the Provincial Engineering Office, the auditee in this case.

Internal audit in the context of local government units is one of the expertise of Step Up Consulting. To date, it has assisted the provinces of Bohol, Bukidnon, Guimaras, Davao del Norte and Lanao del Norte.

Step Up Managing Consultant assists LGSP-LED

Mr. Canares during a workshop with LED focal persons coming from the 9 participating provinces.
Mr. Canares during a workshop with DILG, program partners, and LED focal persons coming from the 9 participating provinces.

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting, was contracted by the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED)  to advise on results measurement and reporting processes since September 2013. Currently, Mr. Canares is now on the final phase of the consulting engagement which will culminate with the preparation of a manual on measuring local economic development that local government units can use.

“The Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED) is an eight-year (July 2008-July 2016) CAD $18 million collaborative project of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Philippines. It is implemented by a consortium of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) acting as the Canadian Executing Agency (CEA). The CEA is working in partnership with the Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The Program purpose is to reduce poverty by strengthening local governance and supporting sustainable economic development. The Ultimate Outcome is expected to be improved local economic development for Filipino women and men.”(Dorotan and Frick, 2012, page 5).

LGSP-LED seeks to improve the measurement and tracking of local-level economic outcomes in the program, in particular those related to impact of the program’s activities on investment attraction, business formation and growth in enterprises (MSMEs).  Mr. Canares’ work was to assist the CEA in developing a set of indicators (along with the related methods for collecting baseline data, data sources for ongoing tracking, collection methods, frequency and responsibility) that could be easily tracked by LGUs and/or their private sector partners (chambers of commerce, local business clubs).

 

Step Up Assists DILG

Mr. Canares and the participants of the PRMF/DILG consultative workshop on LRMPA.
Mr. Canares and the participants of the PRMF/DILG consultative workshop on LRMPA.

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Provincial Road Management Facility to assist the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in reviewing its Local Road Management Performance Assessment Tool (LRMPAT), a tool in assessing the performance of local government units.   A consultative workshop was done with representatives of regional offices of DILG across the country last 22-23 May 2014 at The Linden Suites in Ortigas, Manila.

The Local Road Management Performance Assessment (LRMPA) Consultative Workshop started at 8:45 a.m. on 22 May with an opening program where Ms. Ruby Romero of DILG – SLRF  thanked the PRMF Team and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government for the support and partnership with DILG. For his part, Mr. Luke McNamara, Capacity Development Manager of PRMF emphasized the importance of sharing insights and experiences in the course of the workshop to further understand and improve the LRMPAT.

The LRMPAT was developed in 2012 when Mr. Canares was still the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator of PRMF.  The tool was pilot-tested in select cities and provinces in the same year to serve as input to the tool’s final revision.  Mr. Ronet Santos was then contracted by PRMF to facilitate the whole process.  In 2013, DILG rolled-out the implementation of the tool nationally and thus the need to hear the perspectives of those conducting the assessments in the provinces and cities.

A total of 46 participants attended the two-day workshop.  Mr. Michael Canares was the lead facilitator of the activity while Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes was its documenter.

Step Up Consulting Assists EU/KNH EIPID Project

IKFI planning
Participants during the EIPID Sustainability Planning Workshop

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, a partner of Kindernothilfe (Germany) in implementing an EU-funded “Empowering Indigenous Peoples for Inclusive Development” Project (EIPID Project), to conduct its sustainability planning workshop. The project ends this year and thus the need to craft a hand-over strategy to the different EIPID partners. The project is implemented in the province of Antique, more particularly the towns of Lauan, Valderrama, Tobias Fornier, Anini-y, and Hamtic.

The goal of the project is to empower the Iraynon-Bukidnon and the Ati households and communities so that they can proactive engage in local development processes. To date, the organization was able to assist more 800 IP households through the self-help approach – where they save, engage in business, and undertake social/community action activities.  It resulted to positive changes more particularly to mothers and their children in terms of capacity to care and participate in local governance processes, and in terms of education and health, respectively.

The Sustainability Planning Workshop was held in Iloilo Business Hotel last 24-25 April, 2014.  It was attended by the members of the Board of Directors of Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, KNH representative in the Philippines, provincial officials of the Province of Antique, representatives from national government agencies as TESDA, DILG, and NCIP. Step Up Consulting planned and facilitated the two-day event.

Step Up Facilitates Aklan Internal Audit Strengthening

Aklan Internal Audit Visits Bohol (L-R: Brenda Magalit, Mae Cawaling, Elyen Agcaoili of Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cecil Isubal of PRMF Aklan, and May Limbaga of Bohol Provincial Internal Audit Office)
Aklan Internal Audit Visits Bohol (L-R: Brenda Magalit, Mae Cawaling, Elyen Agcaoili of Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cecil Isubal of PRMF Aklan, and May Limbaga of Bohol Provincial Internal Audit Office)

Step Up Consulting facilitated the capacity building activities for the Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office (APIAO) through a series of on-site and online mentoring sessions intended to strengthen the capacity of APIAO in audit report writing and compliance monitoring.  Lead consultant Michael Canares facilitated the mentoring session on audit report writing in Kalibo last 2-3 April 2014 while Administrative Assistant Marilou Sale of Step Up coordinated the benchmarking visit of APIAO in Bohol last 9-11 April.

The APIAO team visited the office of the Provincial Administrator, AE Damalerio and Provincial Governor Edgar Chatto to learn about the support extended by the provincial government to Bohol’s internal audit team currently headed by May Limbaga.  They spent the whole day last 10 April 2014 to learn from the experience of Bohol’s Provincial Internal Audit Office, one of the very first local internal audit offices established in the country with the assistance of the Australian government.  The team also visited the Provincial Engineer’s Office and met with Engr. Gabino Redulla to learn about the road maintenance practices of the province.  At day’s end, they were given a short lecture on the role of internal audit in local governance in the road sector by Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF) Bohol Manager Rosalinda Paredes.

The APIAO team expressed their appreciation to the provincial government of Bohol and to Step Up Consulting for a very productive benchmarking visit.  It can be recalled that Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting was the first consultant who assisted Bohol’s internal audit office in crafting its audit charter, in finalising its internal audit plan, and in conducting risk analysis using process-based approach sometime in 2010 when the office was still starting.  Currently, Bohol’s internal audit office is one of the few strong internal audit teams among the 10 provinces supported by PRMF.

Step Up Consulting Assists Ilog Kinderhome

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IKFI Participants during the Annual Planning and Evaluation Workshop

Step Up Consulting assists its long-time client Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, Inc. (IKFI) in two engagements – in training its project staff in the use and conduct of Most Significant Change (MSC) as a monitoring and evaluation tool, and in facilitating the conduct of its Annual Evaluation and Planning Workshop.

The training on MSC was attended by project staff of the Empowering Indigenous Communities for Inclusive Development Project (EIPID).  EIPID, funded by the European Union through Kindernothilfe, is implemented in the province of Antique in order to empower indigenous communities socially, economically, and politically.  The workshop was held at the CICM Retreat House in Talisay, Negros Occidental in October 28-30, 2013.

It can be recalled that Step Up Consulting assisted KNH in the writing of the EIPID concept note and full proposal some five years ago and was also the evaluation and planning consultant in the early part of the project.

The Annual Planning and Evaluation Workshop, on the other hand, was held at Natures Village Resort Hotel in Talisay, Negros Occidental last 2-5 January 2014.  The workshop covered the planning and evaluation of three projects of IKFI – EIPID, Child-Focused Community Development implemented in Kabankalan, and WIP Project implemented in Ilog, both in Negros Occidental.

Step Up Assists Bukidnon Province on PFM

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A training on Fiduciary Risk Assessment on the Use of Financial and Procurement Systems for PRMF Funds was conducted on June 4-7, 2013 at The Gardens, in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.  The training was attended by representatives from the different road-sector related offices of the Provincial Government of Bukidnon, more particulary, the Provincial Engineer’s Office, Provincial General Services Office, Provincial Budget Office, Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Internal Audit Services Office, Provincial Accountant’s Office, Provincial Legal Office, the Provincial Human Resource Management and Development Office, and the Bids and Awards Committee Secretariat.

The objective of the engagement is to improve the capacities of the Provincial Government of Bukidnon on risk assessment particularly fiduciary risk and determine measures or treatments that could be implemented to reduce the impact of the fiduciary risks.

Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting was the resource person for the said training.  The participants expressed high satisfaction of the results of the training.  As customary, evaluation sheets were distributed to participants where they rated their experience in term of three areas – content, process and facilitator. The ratings indicated that the content is applicable to the workplace of the participants, that there is appropriate amount of information discussed in the workshop, and that the knowledge they have learned are new to them.  They also said that they were able to fully participate in the sessions, discuss and form their ideas,  and that they are eager to apply their learning when they go back to their work stations.

Capacity building is one of the strongest areas of Step Up’s services.  As expected, the participants commented that the learning facilitator managed the learning process and time well, that he relayed the knowledge to participants in an understandable and clear manner. Mr. Canares was also seen as very responsive to participants questions and flexible enough to adapt to the learning temperament of participants.

 

Step Up Trains LGU GST Facilitators

Buenavista TOT TrainingStep Up Consulting Services trained 14 representatives of LGU Buenavista on how to conduct gender-sensitivity trainings as part of the assistance of the GREAT Women Project to the municipality.  The training was conducted in 20-23 March 2013 at Galilea Center for Education and Development and was attended by representatives from the local government unit of Buenavista, the Department of Education, and the local community college.

The GREAT Women project aimed to enhance the enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment (WEE)resulting in sustainable livelihoods for women. It sought to contribute to a gender-responsive environment for the economic empowerment of women, particularly women in microenterprises. In Bohol, the GREAT Women project is implemented in the municipalities of Buenavista, Balilihan, and Jagna.

Step Up managing consultant, Michael Canares, has been assisting the GREAT Women Project (GWP)  not only in Bohol, but also nationally.  In 2010, Mr. Canares facilitated the re-scoping workshop of GWP after its midterm evaluation. Besides Bohol, Mr. Canares also assisted the Metro Naga and Iloilo.

The participants of the training were very thankful to GWP and to the facilitator because they learned significantly from the sessions.  They did not only learn how to facilitate GST sessions, but also how to design participatory events on GST.

Step Up Assists AECID-assisted project on gender mainstreaming

SAM_0333Step Up Consulting Services assisted an AECID project implemented in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women in firming up its results chain and project formulacion.

The “Institutional Strengthening of National and Local Governance on Human Rights and Economic Empowerment with a Gender Focus: Implementation of the Magna Carta of Women,” is a project partnership between the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). AECID supports PCW’s mandate under the Magna Carta of Women as the over-all monitoring and oversight agency in ensuring the implementation of the law. The project will also provide assistance to oversight national government agencies and selected local government units in performing their roles relative to the realization of their mandates under MCW.

Step Up facilitated the workshop held at Lima Park Hotel. It was attended by key personnel of the project last January 2012. An indepth review of the draft PCW-AECID Project Implementation Plan, Project Formulation Document and draft Performance Measurement Frameworks of LGUs was done to serve as basis in the revision of the results chain and the corresponding measurement indicators.

Step Up Celebrates 2013 with renewed optimism

Step Up Consulting Services held its pre-New Year party last 29 December 2012New Year Party at the Villa Alzhun Tourist Inn and Restaurant.  The party, attended by Step Up pool of consultants, their kids, and the trainees of the firm in the summer of 2012, was intended to celebrate the accomplishments of the firm in 2012 and also thank its main stakeholders within the firm in its contribution for the upcoming projects of the organization in 2013.

Step Up is now on its 9th year and its pool of consultants has significantly grown.  Its pool of consultants are researchers, local government practitioners, development workers, and professors who are committed to the the development of organizations, institutions, and communities.  Established as a social enterprise, Step Up is dedicated to assisting local communities, people’s organizations, local government units, non-profits, and business enterprises, in the delivery of services that benefits the society in general.

Step Up is also committed to training future leaders. As a strategy, it accepts five trainees each summer, selected from several applicants, to be trained in the provision of capacity building, financial management, and development research services to clients; these are the firm’s core services. Previous interns later became CPA board exam placers while majority now holds successful jobs within the country and elsewhere.

Step Up thanks its previous clients for believing in the capacity of the firm to provide quality services.  In 2013, Step Up plans to launch two programs that will benefit communities as well as children.