Michael Canares, Step UP strategy adviser was invited by the Open Contracting Partnership to speak on a team webinar on open contracting and inclusion last 27 January 2021. The Open Contracting Partnership is a “collaboration across governments, businesses, civil society, and technologists to open up and transform government contracting worldwide”.
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.
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.
“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.”
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:
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?
What contextual and programmatic aspects in open contracting contribute to achieving meaningful results and benefits for these marginalised groups?
What do specific, historically marginalised stakeholders experience as significant barriers/impediments to achieving the desired results and benefits?
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.
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 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 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.
Step Up Consulting was tasked by Holy Name University to conduct a series of team building activities for its employees. The team building workshop was held in two batches – on 16 January 2018, and another one on January 19, 2018. The activities were held at the Mercederian Retreat House in Dauis, Bohol.
The workshop was mix of physical, mental, and emotional activities designed to surface key issues affecting the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of teams in work-settings. The activities ranged from personality assessment, team temperature diagnosis, role-playing, mental and physical games that the participants enjoyed.
Team-building activities draw inspiration from Matthew 7:7 (“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.”) and consisted of four fast-paced discussion and team activities infused with games that teach.
The conduct of team-building activities is one of Step-Up’s core services. It has a dedicated team that facilitates these activities for organizations, corporations, and associations.
Step Up Consulting Services facilitated the project-end evaluation workshop of the Bohol Consortium on Humanitarian Assistance (BCHA). The evaluation workshop reviewed the implementation of the Strengthening the Capacities of Local Consortium towards Effective Humanitarian Assistance project participated by BCHA members, namely, the Bohol Integrated Development Foundation, Inc. (BIDEF), Social Action Center (SAC),UB Community Development Foundation, Inc. (UBCDFI), and Philippine Center for Civic Education and Democracy (PCCED). The workshop was conducted on 11-12 January 2018 at Bohol Bee Farm, Dao, Dauis Bohol.
The province of Bohol is highly vulnerable to various natural and manmade calamities. It is often ravaged by typhoons which appear to be increasing in frequency and strength each year. Monsoon winds that produce storm surges, heavy rainfall and sea level rise also pose threats to the province. More importantly, the province has various known faults that have the capacity to generate massive earthquakes similar to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the province on October 15, 2013.
The occurrence of these hazards is inevitable. Hence, a group of local organizations that managed to raise funds during the great Bohol earthquake in 2013 initiates to organize and forge themselves to become a local consortium for humanitarian assistance aptly named BCHA. However, this newly organized group has to be strengthened and capacitated in order to become effective in their goal of coming and working together for humanitarian aid to disaster affected communities/individuals.
Implemented in 2016 to 2107, the Strengthening LC Project (Strengthening the Capacities of Local Consortium towards Effective Humanitarian Assistance) aimed at improving and strengthening the capacity of the consortium members to become effective in providing assistance to communities and individuals affected by natural and man-made disasters.
The workshop was able to identify significant changes that was caused by the project at the individual, non-government organization (NGO), and consortium levels.
At the individual level, the three most significant changes are the (1) Change in attitude more particularly in having more patience to deal with challenges; (2) Enhanced knowledge and skills on humanitarian response; and (3) Increase in the level or nature of assertiveness of project team members. At the NGO level, the three significant changes include (1)the building of credibility and confidence of each organization trained in performing disaster risk reduction and humanitarian related activities; (2) enhanced coordination and linkaging among BCHA members and other organizations; and (3) Services rendered are based on lessons learned from the capacity building activities, including improvements in systems and procedures (e.g. finance, monitoring and evaluation, among others). At the consortium level, the project was able to (1) equip the personnel on how to respond to disaster with clear and focused direction; (2) inspire the consortium to pursue development programs together as they were able to achieve a lot by working together; and (3) capacitate the consortium to network and link with other humanitarian assistance groups and pursued its commitment to extend its services beyond Bohol.