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 conducts workshop for DILG VII

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Step Up Consulting conducted a strategic planning workshop for the Local Government Capability Development Division of the Department of Interior and Local Government-Region VII as the division prepares  for another year of coordinating capacity building programs for local government units.

The workshop, held on  January 30 to February 1, 2019 at the Ranch Resort in Toledo, Cebu, was participated in by a dozen of local government officers and their division chief Ms. Marithel Oporto.  The workshop was able to tackle the division’s mandates, current accomplishments, future targets, and enabling strategies to achieve division goals.

Assistant Regional Director Louella Luceno graced the event on the third day and encouraged the participants to pursue the plan and be inspired to do more for the success of the division. She also expressed her renewed commitment to strengthen the Local Governance Resource Center of the region.

Mr. Michael Canares, Step Up’s strategy advisor, designed and facilitated the whole event with the assistance of Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes, research associate.

Step Up Attends Workshop in New Delhi

india picStep Up Strategy Advisor Michael Canares started the year 2019 by attending a workshop on local governance in the Asian region along with other experts in the field.  The workshop was held on January 3-7, 2019 at Swiss Embassy in New Delhi as part of Swiss EDA’s program on local governance.

The workshop tackled the current situation of local governance in Asian countries, how learning and knowledge sharing can be facilitated across different local government units, and what enabling mechanisms are necessary to make learning processes across different actors can be made sustainable to promote local government development in the Asian region.

The workshop was organized under the auspices of the Local Governance Initiative and Network.

Step Up Conducts Year-End Assessment for DILG Region VII

TET_3518Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Department of Interior and Local Government Region VII Regional Office to facilitate the review on the implementation of locally-funded projects as well as a strategic planning for the year 2019.  The activity was held on December 19-21, 2018 at the Bohol Bee Farm Resort in Dauis, Panglao Island.

The activity was attended in by the DILG officials from the four provinces of Region VII, namely Bohol, led by Mr. Johnjoan Mende, provincial director; Cebu, led by Mr. Jerome Gonzales, provincial director; Negros Oriental, led by Mr. Dennis Quinones; and Siquijor, led by Mr. Kenneth Kilat.

Step Up Partners with Transparency International on Open Data

TI PHLast 17 October 2015, Step Up Consulting Services (Step Up) and Transparency International-Philippines (TI-PH) co-organized Making Open Data User-Friendly: An Open Data End-User Engagement Workshop,through the generous support of the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI). Combining talks from experts in open data, transparency and data use with interactive workshops, the event aimed to bring open government data to the doorsteps of concerned groups and individuals. This is Transparency International-Philippines’ second Technology for Transparency workshop, which is an overall initiative to use technology as a means to innovate integrity tools and promote transparency. TI-PH’s involvement in the workshop links the implementation and use of open data with the fight against corruption.

In partnering with TI-PH, Step Up Consulting Services aimed to share its research on the state of open data in the Philippines. The research was successful in pinpointing the various elements which interact and cause challenges for open data use. Step Up views the end-user engagement workshop as a springboard toward identifying, improving, and sharing the solutions identified for the challenges we face in opening data in the country.

Together, the workshop organizers gathered different experts and participants with a shared interest in making open data more accessible, comprehensible and most importantly, usable by potential beneficiaries. Speakers for the workshop were Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up, Dr. Cleo Calimbahin, Executive Director of Transparency International, Dody Priambodo, Project Manager of SEATTI, Michelle Manza of the Open Data Task Force, and TJ Palanca, Operations Coordinator of Uber Philippines and data blogger at Jumbo Dumbo Thoughts.

Step Up Team Wins Research Grant

encite OGD logoStep Up is among the five researchers/research teams granted with research funds by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to undertake a study on the best method to build the capacity of civil society organizations on open government data. The action research entitled “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data” will be implemented in the next three months and is aimed at identifying the best approach to use in increasing citizen engagement with local governments through data sets published online.

The Step Up proposal was one of the more than 80 proposals screened by the OGP’s Open Data Working Group.  Among the proposals submitted, Step Up made it to the top five, together with Open North, Inc of Canada, Mitrovic Development and Research Institute of South Africa, Mark Frank of the United Kingdom, and Sunlight Foundation of the United States. Step Up is the only research team from Asia.

The announcement from OGP can be found here.

Step Up Assists Rural Bank of Loboc

Board and staff of the Rural Bank of Loboc during the business strategy workshop.
Board and staff of the Rural Bank of Loboc during the business strategy workshop.

After five successful and profitable years of operation, the Rural Bank of Loboc, Inc. has grown in an unprecedented pace and achieved a set of financial indicators that speak of the bank’s operational sustainability. To revisit its directions and chart a new set of goals to 2020, the Board of Directors hired Step Up Consulting to facilitate the process to assist them in looking at their bank operations and plan for the next six years.

As a culminating event,  a workshop was held at the bank’s office in Loboc, Bohol on 9 November 2014. The workshop was attended by 5 of its board of directors, one bank consultant, and all members of the staff. The workshop resulted to a strategic plan that the Board will pursue to 2020.

The Rural Bank of Loboc was conceptualized in early 2004 as a major component of The Grand Dreams for the Development of Loboc. This dream, which served as a guide for the administration of Mayor Calipusan, focused on key priority areas labeled as LITHOPE – which stands for livelihood, infrastructure, tourism, health, organizational strengthening, peace and order, and education.  The idea then was to revive a previous proposal of converting the credit cooperative into a rural bank to finance development initiatives in the municipality.  If this would not work, it was planned that local Lobocanons will be organized to set up a bank that would serve the town’s financing needs for agriculture, small and medium-scale enterprises, and other productive activities, with the end view of promoting economic growth and development of Loboc and the economic empowerment of the Lobocanons. The second route was decided as the most viable option.

To date, the Rural Bank of Loboc serves the financing needs of the town of Loboc and nearby municipalities.

Step Up Presents Research in 8th ICEGOV – Portugal

Michael Canares with other members of the ODDC network
Michael Canares with other members of the ODDC network

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting Services, presented his research entitled – “Full Disclosure Policy and its Impact on Local Governance in the Philippines”, in the recently concluded International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance held in the historic city of Gumaraes, Portugal. The research paper was one of the outputs of the Open LGU Research Project which Step Up implemented in 2013.

Mr. Canares also facilitated the session on Open Data Intermediaries together with Sumandro Chattapadhyay of Data Meet India. The study on Open Data intermediaries is one of the Web Foundation-funded synthesis papers on Open Data in Developing Countries research that Step Up manages together with a team of researchers from India and South Africa.  In the session, Mr. Canares was joined by other members of the Open Data Research Network – Leo Mutuko of Ihub (Kenya), Sandra Elena of CIPPEC (Argentina), and Ricardo Matheus of Brazil.

ICEGOV is a series of International Conferences on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance taking place annually around the world. The series focuses on the use of technology to transform the working of government and its relationships with citizens, businesses and other non-state actors in order to improve public governance and its contribution to public policy and development (EGOV).

The ICEGOV conference series is coordinated by the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), based in Guimarães, Portugal, in continuation of the work of the Center for Electronic Governance at UNU-IIST in Macao, China, which founded the ICEGOV series.

Step Up Completes Internal Audit Mentoring for Misamis Occidental

PGMOC participants during one of the mentoring workshops.
PGMOC participants during one of the mentoring workshops.

Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Provincial Roads Management Facility to conduct mentoring activities for the Provincial Internal Audit Office (PIAO) of Misamis Occidental on audit communications and audit recommendations monitoring from August to October 2014. The highlights of the engagement were the conduct of mentoring workshops on the two topics.

The mentoring activity was intended to enable participants to understand the importance of monitoring and tracking internal audit recommendations;  learn how to establish an effective internal audit monitoring system; and know the importance of communication and writing skills in providing effective and persuasive management advise. As part of the outputs of the mentoring process, the PIAO was able to draft an Audit Recommendations Monitoring process, and a draft Audit Communications Plan.

Step Up was greatly appreciated by the participants for the topics they learned and for the process the mentors used in conducting the mentoring activity.  The participants rated the Step Up 9.33 out of 10.  The Step Up team was composed of Alvin Luis Acuzar, Jean Celeste Paredes, and managing consultant Michael Canares.