Step Up Wins HIVOS Contract to Study Open Contracting in 4 Countries

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Open Contracting and OCDS (Image taken from https://openprocurement.io/en/ocds

Step Up Consulting was awarded a research contract by HIVOS, a development organization headquartered in the Netherlands, to undertake a research project to understand how open contracting reforms and increased availability of contract data can be used to realize results and benefits for specific, historically marginalized groups external to government.

Step Up Consulting is one of the several firms considered to undertake the research but got the final nod of the HIVOS review panel based on the strength of its proposal and the quality of the composition of its research team. The research will be conducted in Kenya and Nigeria in Africa, and Indonesia and the Philippines in Asia.

For this research, Step Up’s team is composed of Michael Canares, strategy advisor, as research lead and Francois Van Schalkwyk, a long-time collaborator of Mr. Canares, along with Fiona Smith and Ana Brandusescu as review panel.  The research will run from July 2019 to January 2020.

The research, using a case study approach, aims to identify and assess ways in which key aspects of open contracting reforms did or did not lead to circumstances where open contracting resulted in increased equality and inclusion in public contracting processes. More particularly, the research would like to answer the following questions:

  1. How can open contracting reforms and increased availability of contract data be used to realise results and benefits for specific, historically marginalised groups external to government? 
  2. What contextual and programmatic aspects in open contracting contribute to achieving meaningful results and benefits for these marginalised groups? 
  3. What do specific, historically marginalised stakeholders experience as significant barriers/impediments to achieving the desired results and benefits?

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.

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.

Mr. Canjura Joins Step Up

Mr. JoseJCanjura-profile Canjura is one of the latest addition to Step Up’s roster of consultants. He joins Step Up this year as one of the researchers of the project on open data and governance funded by the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative implemented by Hivos .

Mr. Canjura is a Canadian urban planner and governance specialist. Since his arrival in the Philippines Mr. Canjura has worked extensively in local governance, with a focus on building mechanisms and tools that foster greater local economic development and a more competitive business enabling environment. He recently completed a study on the human resource and organizational development interventions that lead to greater local competitiveness, and collaborated in an assessment of Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officer (LEIPO) competencies. Prior to his involvement in this project, Mr. Canjura also worked on several other open government initiatives: he conducted a study on the state of advocacy for budget transparency; and worked on an assessment on open contracting data in the Philippines. Mr. Canjura holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Strategic Planning from Dalhousie University in Canada; a Diploma in Project Management and an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Geography, both from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

 

Step Up Presents at ICEDEG Conference in Ecuador

The Panel Members and ICEDEG 2015 Ecuador
The Panel Members and ICEDEG 2015 Ecuador

Managing consultant of Step Up Consulting Services joins the panel of four speakers conducting a tutorial on Open Government and Open Data at the International Conference on E-Democracy and E-Government.  The conference was held at the Universidad de Las Americas in Quito, Ecuador, last 8-10 April, 2015.

Michael Canares spoke about Open Government and Open Data in Asia and joined Sandra Elena and German Stalker of the Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (Argentina) , Francois Van Schalkwyk of African Minds (South Africa), and Carlos Jimenez (Spain), founder of the IEEE e-government initiative.

The participation of Michael Canares in the conference was funded by a paper dissemination grant from the International Development Research Center through World Wide Web Foundation.

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 is Represented in OGP Bali Conference

OGP Bali
Mr Canares with some of the members of the Philippine delegation together with Ambassador Aguinaldo and Maria Ressa of Rappler.

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up consulting is one of the representatives in the recent conference on Open Government Partnership held in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on May 6-7 2014.  The theme of the conference was “Unlocking Innovative Openness: Impetus to Greater Citizen Engagement“. The two-day event was opened with the plenary address of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in front of more than 500 delegates from across Asia-Pacific and the world.

Mr. Canares is one of the 30 Filipinos from government, academia, media, and civil society, who were invited to attend the high-level conference.  The conference discussed on the innovations, opportunities, limitations, and challenges of open government in the region.

Mr. Canares was the self-appointed rapporteur of the Open Data Research Network, a network of researchers on open data where Step Up Consulting is a member. During the course of the conference, he wrote two blog posts that were featured in the Open Government Partnership and cited in several articles on open governance and transparency.

The links to the posts on the Open Government Partnership website can be found here. These posts originally appeared in the Open Data Research Network website.

Day 1 Summary

Day 2 Summary

 

 

Step Up presents result of Open LGU Study to Bohol

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Step Up Consulting Services presented the result of its study “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?” or Open LGU Research Project in a Presentation and Validation Workshop held in the afternoon of February 25, 2014 at the MetroCentre Hotel and Convention Center. The research team, composed of Mr. Michael Canares, Ms. Mariejoe Narca and Ms. Jare Arawiran, presented to an audience of 40 representatives from different civil society groups and the government sector of the Province of Bohol, who were the identified stakeholders of Open Data, some of whom are among the respondents of the research.

The team presented its key findings highlighting, among others, that Bohol fully complies with the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP) of DILG by posting required governmental information in its website. Also, Bohol provides more information in its website about local governance affairs than what is required. For example, the province posts its Provincial Atlas, a collection of maps and other relevant information that is useful for decision-making processes not only for governments but also for investors in its website. However, Bohol only achieves five of the ten criteria for open data. Relevant governance data exists. The data is available in digital form. The data is available free of charge and is up-to-date and it is easy to find information on the data set. However, data cannot be reused as it is not machine readable. The budget files, for example, are in PDF and needs to be converted into other forms (e.g. Excel spreadsheets) to allow a user to analyse the data.

On the part of the citizen groups, most of the civil society groups are not yet aware of the existence of the FDP. Thus, the different organisations did not look for documents in the provincial government’s website. As a result, information provided by Bohol in its website is hardly used by citizen groupsThere are at least three reasons for this. First, they are not aware that the data exists in the website. Second, they are not interested with the information provided.  Third, even when the information is provided, they do not have the technical knowledge to understand and use the documents for their benefit.

The recent event earned as much enthusiasm from its audience as it did during the project launch in July this year. The activity did not only become a venue for the stakeholders / respondents to hear and validate the results of the study, it also gave the aud ience an opportunity to express their insights, hopes and commitments for a genuinely transparent governance.

The research team is set to do two separate provincial presentations in South Cotabato and Bulacan, the other two study sites and a national presentation for the three provincial sites in Manila within this quarter and the next of 2014.

Open Data Team Holds Analysis Workshop

IMG_00000451_hdr (2) The Open Data Team of Step Up Consulting held a data analysis workshop last 21-22 December 2013 at the Dao Diamond Hotel. The workshop aimed at synthesizing fieldwork results of two case studies of the research project “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?”. (For more details of the project, please see http://www.lguopendata.ph/.

The Open Data team composed of Jare Arawiran, Marilou Sale, Marijoe Narca, and Joseph de Guia discussed the findings of the fieldwork conducted in Bohol and South Cotabato and reflected on the answers to the research questions gathered from the two sites as well as from documents review.  The research will still have to visit the third case study site (Bulacan) in the first quarter of 2014.

This research project is one of the 17 case studies across the globe and is part of the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC).  This project aims to to establish practical and actionable knowledge about effective strategies for employing open data as means to achieve greater quality of openness in government, support citizens’ rights, and promote more inclusive development in developing countries.

The funding for this work has been provided through the World Wide Web Foundation ‘Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries’ research project, supported by grant 107075 from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (web.idrc.ca). Find out more at www.opendataresearch.org/emergingimpacts

Step Up Managing Consultant Attends India Meeting on Open Data

Michael Canares, with some of the participants in the India Meet. Dr. Michael Gurstein (middle, in green polo) is one of the mentors of the project.
Michael Canares, with some of the participants in the India Meet. Dr. Michael Gurstein (middle, in green polo) is one of the mentors of the project.

Mr. Michael Canares, Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting Services and Team Leader of the Open LGU Research Project was one of those invited to attend the Regional Project Meeting of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data project funded by IDRC through the World Wide Web Foundation.  The meeting was held at the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India last 16-19 July 2013 and was attended by more than twenty people from within Asia, and from the UK and Canada. The meeting also coincided with the TERI workshop on Open Government Data and Resources.

The meeting introduced the research project to stakeholders in India. At the same time, the participants were also orientated to the state and condition of open government data in India.  An afternoon project launch on 16th June was done with representatives from different sectors in India – government, civil society, business community, and IT professionals.  India is one of the countries with a right to information act (RTI) that has since empowered citizens to demand from government data to explain, for example, its spending and investment decisions.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for the researchers to discuss different tools used in the study of open government data.  Among those discussed in the forum were stakeholder’s mapping, surveys, follow-the-data, news analysis, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews.  Mr. Canares, in one of the sessions, led the discussion on the use of stakeholders’ mapping to define how stakeholders (e.g. business, civil society, research institutions) interact with government, and use government data for their purposes.  This workshop was attended by one of ODDC project mentors, Michael Gurstein.

Michael Gurstein is one of the leading thinkers in community informatics. Most of his work deals with how information and communications technology empowers and enables communities. In this meeting, Dr. Gurstein contributed significantly to the discussion most especially in unearthing underlying theories informing the methods and in refining analysis frames of the different research methods that the researchers would like to use.