Step Up Publishes AID-FOI Tool

The FOI Research Team at Step Up Consulting , in collaboration with the FOI Project Management Office of the Government of the Philippines, released the latest version of the Assessing Information Disclosure Practices for FOI Compliance (AID-FOI) Tool.

The tool, developed with funding support from HIVOS, is used to assess whether the conditions within an agency are appropriate for FOI mechanisms to be effective. It assesses whether the agency possesses the critical elements that will enable it to perform proactive disclosure of agency data. For purposes of the assessment, the AID-FOI Tool draws heavily from the work of the Carter Center’s Rule of Law Program that specifies a set of indicators to assess FOI implementation. These indicators revolve around five essential components, namely, leadership, rules, systems, resources, and monitoring.

Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan of the FOI Project Management Office (FOI) was able to champion the use of the tool across national government agencies when he promoted the tool during the Freedom of Information (FOI) Annual Summit. A total of 200 agencies were able to use the tool to assess their information disclosure practices. As a result, of these initiatives, the AID-FOI tool was
included as part of the Compendium on the Innovation and Productivity Initiatives in the Public
Sector, which aims to provide an inventory of best practices on public service delivery in the Asia- Pacific region.

Step Up Launches its First Online Training on Local Road Asset Management

Step Up Consulting launched last 29 July 2020 its first online training offering on local road asset management. The training consists of two synchronous online learning sessions of three hours each and 8 hours of asynchronous learning activities over a span of five days. The recipients of this first online training were the provincial governments of Bohol and Siquijor.

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.

Mr. Canares , strategy advisor of Step Up Consulting, is also the author of the book, “Local Road Asset Management for Local Governments: A Manual for Local Government Units”, that will soon be published by UNDP in the Philippines and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

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.

Step Up Presents Research on the Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 onTagbilaran City

Step Up Consulting presented the results of its recently conducted research on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Tagbilaran City to stakeholders from government, civil society, and the private sector last 17 July 2020.

The research was fully funded by Step Up Consulting, with the technical support of the City Government of Tagbilaran and Dr. Rosalinda G. Paredes, city coordinator of USAID SURGE. It seeks to answer the following questions:

a. What are the key socio-economic impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic more particularly to the businesses, employees, and informal and on-account workers?

b. What is the level of economic vulnerability of the groups mentioned above to withstand a prolonged enhanced community quarantine?

c. What policy measures and programs are needed to be in place to protect the most vulnerable from the adverse economic impacts of the COVID crisis? 

During the public presentation held via zoom, Step Up also launched the research website that will communicate research findings in digestible chunks. You can find the website on this link – https://covidimpactresearch.com/

HIVOS Publishes Step Up’s Paper on Open Contracting and Inclusion

hivos book cover

Hivos, a development organization based in the Netherlands recently published a research it commissioned to Step Up Consulting. The research, done by Michael Canares and Francois van Schalkwyk, interrogates whether open contracting reforms can or can not lead to increased equality and inclusion in public contracting processes.

Open contracting has been adopted by more than 35 governments worldwide and has received significant attention from advocates and researchers alike. According to the organisation Open Contracting Partnership, open contracting has become “a new global norm, recommended and endorsed by global bodies such as the G7, the G20, OECD, the European Commission, the World Bank, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development”. However, evidence of the concrete benefits that open contracting delivers derives from a limited sample of case studies or single-country research pilots.

The research made use of a case study approach covering 5 low and middle-income countries.  The cases covered are as follows:

    1. Bandung, Indonesia: an open contracting pilot project implemented the City of Bandung with the support of the World Bank and the National Procurement Agency. The citizen engagement component of the project was implemented by World Wide Web Foundation’s Open Data Lab Jakarta, the aim of which is to cultivate use of published contracting data by the city government of Bandung, Indonesia.  
    2. Bantay Kita, Philippines: Open mining governance to increase access, understanding and use of mining contract data in Cebu and Palawan provinces in the Philippines.
    3. Budeshi, Nigeria aims to ensure that public service delivery in Nigeria is opened to public scrutiny. Budeshi also requires that data across the budget and procurement processes are structured enough to enable various stages to be linked to each other and, eventually, to public services.
    4. Preferential Procurement, South Africa: Public procurement regulations introduced by the national government in 2017 stipulating that at least 30% of the value of all government contracts of ZAR30 million or more must be subcontracted to specified disadvantaged groups, including youth and women.
    5. Access to Government Procurement Opportunities, Kenya: Public procurement regulations introduced by the national government in 2013 stipulating that at least 30% of all government contracts must be subcontracted to specified disadvantaged groups, including youth and women.

If you are interested to learn more about the research, please download the file from this link.

 

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 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 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 Facilitates OGP Commitment Design Workshop for the Philippine Government

IMG_20190416_114217Step Up Consulting Strategy Advisor Michael P. Canares led the design and facilitation of the Philippine Government’s commitment design workshop as part of the several processes in formulating its National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership.

The Philippines is a pioneering member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative that aims to promote transparent, accountable, participatory, and responsive governance.

The workshop gathered several representatives from national government agencies and civil society organizations to dissect and analyze two Philippine government commitments – the Digital Imaging for Monitoring and Evaluation (DIME) proposed by the Department of Budget and Management, and the commitment on Open Contracting, proposed by the Government Procurement Policy Board.

The workshop was held at the DBM Conference Room in Manila last 15-16 April 2019 and supported by OGP Support Unit‘s team based in Asia Pacific lead by Shreya Basu.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates ASEAN Workshop

PHOTO-2019-02-27-16-38-07(39) (1)

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.