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

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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 Outcomes Harvesting Workshop and Data Security Training

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Step Up Research Manager, Jean Celeste Paredes, attends the Outcome Harvesting Workshop and Data Security training organized by HIVOS last October 15-17, 2019 at the Bellevue Hotel, Ortigas.  The activity is part of the series of activities that HIVOS offer to its partners in the Philippines.

Outcome Harvesting is an evaluation approach in which evaluators, grantmakers, managers and staff identify, formulate, verify, analyse and interpret ‘outcomes’ in programming contexts where relations of cause and effect are not fully understood. Through Outcome Harvesting, organizations collect (“harvest”) evidence of what has changed (“outcomes”) for HIVOS grantees, and then, working backwards, determine whether and how HIVOS interventions (grant allocation and linking and learning) have contributed to these changes.

On the other hand, the Digital Security Training aims to introduce and understand the communications model as a framework for digital security and to identify areas how each partner, including Step Up Consulting, can strengthen digital security within each  organization.

The training was attended by HIVOS partners in the Philippines, including LayerTech Labs, Bantay Kita, CODE-NGO, among others.

Step Up Attends WIKA Workshop in Germany

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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 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 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 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 Trains DILG Region VII on RBM

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Step Up Consulting trained officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government – Region VII, on the basics of Results-Based Management.   The training intended to enable the participants, largely coming from the agency’s project development and management units (PDMU) in the Central Visayas region, to understand the basic concepts and principles of RBM as a tool in project development and management, practice the use of the RBM tools using case studies,  and craft a plan of action in mainstreaming RBM practices with Region VII’s project development, monitoring, and evaluation practices.

The training was attended by the regional PDMU office, including the provincial PDMUs of Bohol, Siquijor, Cebu, and Negros Oriental. The training was held on March 13-15 at Golden Prince Hotel and Suites in Cebu City.  It made use of a combination of adult-learning exercises, games, and case studies.

The participants expressed gratitude to the training team of Step Up Consulting for effectively carrying-out the learning exercises.