CSOs IN Negros Oriental Gather for Open Government Data Training

DSC_0213Nineteen representatives from 12 civil society organizations (CSO) in the Province of Negros Oriental are gathered for a 3-day capacity building activity on open government data, an offshoot of the research “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government data”. This free training was held at UCS 202, Uytengsu Computer Studies Hall, Silliman University, Dumaguete City on February 12-14, 2015. The skills training aimed to appreciate the importance of data in communicating key governance issues to citizens; learn data skills more particularly (a) data tools like scraping pdf documents and converting them to reusable formats; (b) data visualization (offline and digital); (c) telling stories from data; produce a data visualization on area of interest and present this in a public event with other key stakeholders; and draft a plan of action on how they intend to popularize or communicate their outputs from the workshop to wider audience or their constituents.

The activity was graced by Dr. Emmannuel Lallana, Chief Executive of Ideacorp, who discussed the context of open government and open government data at the global, regional, national, and subnational spheres. Also, Ms. Farah Dibs Gentuya, DILG City Director of Dumaguete, presented about the FDP, the documents disclosed through the FDP and how citizens can make use of these documents. Further, Ms. Gianne Gaorian shared about the current initiatives of the Philippine Government on open data and open government. She highlighted on the open data portal and how citizens can make good use of it. On the second day, Gianne facilitated the online data visualization workshop.

Dr. Dave E. Marcial, provincial lead for Negros Oriental, facilitated two workshops: selection of data set and offline data visualization. In the same manner, Mr. Michael Canares, research leader, facilitated the workshop on data narratives. He guided the participants in weaving a story of their data visualization, how to communicate their data and what are their options for doing so.

At the end of the workshop, participants were able to present their data visualization outputs, both online and offline. The participants are expected to meet again next month for a learning workshop.

This activity is implemented by Step Up Consulting Services, with funding provided through the World Wide Web Foundation ‘Open Data for Development Fund’ to support the ‘Open Government Partnership Open Data Working Group’ work, through grant 107722 from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (web.idrc.ca). For more information about the research, go to http://encite-ogd.ph.

Step Up Managing Consultant Joins PRMF Review Team

prmf ex review
Pictures during the fieldwork of the PRMF review team in Bohol and Lanao del Norte

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government to serve as member of the review team that looks into the implementation of the Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF) from 2012. The review was conducted by  team of three people with fieldwork conducted in the provinces of Guimaras, Iloilo, Bohol, Lanao del Norte and Cebu. Among these provinces, Bohol, Guimaras, and Lanao del Norte are participating provinces of the PRMF project

Mr. Canares joined the team headed by Dr. Paul Lundberg, review team leader, and former Governor of Negros Occidental Lito Coscolluela.  Dr. Lundberg was once the Chief of Party of USAID’s Governance and Local Democracy project and was also the review team of PRMF in 2011.  Mr. Coscolluela, on the other hand, is the Chair of Synergia, and also a consultant of CIDA’s Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development.

PRMF is a governance program funded by the Government of Australia and implemented in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government.  The supporting contractor of PRMF is the Louis Berger Group.

 

Step Up assists WTRC in Men’s Forum

Men @ Work Forum.
Men @ Work Forum.

Step Up Consulting was engaged by the Wholistic Transformation Resource Center to facilitate the Men@Work Forum held at the First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo last 24-26 November 2014.  The forum was attended by key partners of WTRC, more notably Tulay sa Pag-unlad, World Vision’s Community Economic Ventures, Taytay sa Kauswagan, Visayan Forum, Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Kabalikat sa Maunlad na Buhay, Katuwang Resource Center, Center for Community Transformation, Opportunities International Australia, and the Alliance of Philippine Partners for Enterprise Development.

The workshop aimed to discuss the challenges faced by men living in poverty, how social development organizations have responded to the issue, and what more can be done so that men can reclaim its place in the development of families, worlkplaces, and society.  In Asia and all around the world, statistical data showed that men in general lagged in achievements in education, economic productivity, and community leadership, though at the current state of things, men are still occupying top leadership positions.

Speakers for the forum where Far East Broadcasting Network chief Dan Cura, Denis Murphy of the Urban Poor Associates, Geoff Osborne, Bridget Centenera and David Bussau of WTRC, James Tioco of the Sowers of the Word, Ruth Callanta of CCT, and Melbay Maggay of the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture.

Step Up Participates in ODDC Meeting in Berlin

ODDC network participants during the network meeting in Berlin
ODDC network participants during the network meeting in Berlin. Mr. Canares (center of picture, speaking) shared his insights to the other network members.

Step Up Consulting was in Berlin last July 14-18, 2014 to attend two activities related to the Open LGU Research Project that the firm completed successfully this year.  Michael Canares, the project’s team leader and Mr. Joseph de Guia, research associate represented the Step Up team in the Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) network meeting in Berlin last July 14-15. They also attended the Open Knowledge Festival (OKFest) on July 16-18.

Since June 2013, researchers from the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries research network have been carrying out case study research into the supply, use and outcomes of open data in various countries and contexts across the world. Network members coming from Asia, Africa, and Latin America met for a workshop in Berlin on 14th and 15th July to bring together their research findings. A public research sharing event was done on the 15th of July at the Wikimedia Center – Germany. Mr. Canares was one of the panelists on the session on the demand for open data.

Mr. Canares and Mr. de Guia also represented Step Up in the OKFest held at Kulturbraueri, Berlin.  The Open Knowledge Festival 2014 was considered the biggest open data and open knowledge event to date. It was attended by over 1,000 people from more than 60 countries who shared skills, experience, research findings and tools to “further the power of openness as a positive force for change”.  Mr. Canares was the lead facilitator in the Ground-Up Intermediaries session where colleagues from India, Nigeria, South Africa, UK, and Kenya also acted as co-facilitators.

Step Up presents result of Open LGU Study to Bohol

Image

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.

Step Up is Finalist at U4 Proxy Competition

u4 workshopStep Up Consulting Services is one of the five finalists at the U4 Proxy Competition launched by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center based in Bergen, Norway.  Mr. Michael Canares, Managing Consultant of the firm, presented his idea in front of scholars, aid agency representatives, and students, of how corruption at the local level can be measured using locally-generated tax and fees as a proxy indicator.

U4 is one of the leading think tanks focusing in anti-corruption.  It concentrates its efforts in assisting donor practitioners to address corruption challenges more effectively through their development support.  The centre is operated by the Chr. Michelsen Institute – an independent centre for research on international development and policy – and is funded by AusAID (Australia), BTC (Belgium), CIDA (Canada), DFID (UK), GIZ (Germany), Norad (Norway), Sida (Sweden) and The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

The proxy challenge competition was launched last year “to address the perennial problem of assessing whether anti-corruption efforts are successful. “The Proxy Challenge” calls for greater use of bespoke proxy indicators. To assemble a body of promising ideas, U4 selected 5 finalists coming from development practitioners, monitoring and evaluation professionals, and researchers and convened these researchers in Bergen to present their work.

The five finalists were  (1)Integrity Action; (2) Bernard Gauthier (HEC Montréal), Frédéric Lesné (CERDI), Joël Cariolle (CERDI); (3) Mihály Fazekas (University of Cambridge and Corruption Research Centre); (4)  Joël Cariolle (CERDI), Frédéric Lesné (CERDI), Elise S. Brezis;  and Michael Canares (Step Up Consulting). Mihaly Fazekas was the winner of the competition.

Michael Canares said that having been selected as one of the five finalists was already an honour in itself. In his presentation, he thanked the panel for giving him the opportunity to present his idea. Mr. Canares is the only presenter and finalist coming from the global south.

Open LGU Research Team presents research findings in Good Governance Summit

The Open LGU Research Team presents initial findings of its research “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?” in the recently concluded Good Governance Summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center last 15-17 January 2014.  The summit, sponsored by the Philippine Government featured the initiatives towards making the government more transparent and accountable – from the use of cards for cashless transactions to open data and e-procurement.

joseph
De Guia’s presentation
miko
Canares’ presentation

Mr. Michael Canares and Mr. Joseph de Guia, team leader and research associate of the project respectively, presented the results of the study in two provinces – Bohol and South Cotabato in the session on the Promise of Open Data.  They were joined by Andreas Palweke of the World Wide Web Foundation, Dr. Sherwin Ona of the De La Salle University, Paolo Agloro of the Ateneo de Manila University, and Gia Banaag of the Open Data Task Force. Estefanie Ulit of the De La Salle University moderated the session which was held on the second day of the Summit.

The panel got a warm reception of the audience, comprising of around 300 people from different national agencies, local government units, media, academia, non-government organizations, and IT practitioners.  Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism made insightful comments on the work of the research team, more particularly on how to sustain the Full Disclosure Policy and whether DILG penalizes local government units who do not disclose their data.

ODDC team phil
(L to R). Mr. Pawelke (Web Foundation), Mr. Canares (Open LGU), Ms. Ong (Open Data Task Force), Secretary Lacierda, Ms. Ulit (DLSU-Manila), Mr. De Guia (Open LGU), and Dr. Ona (DLSU).

The second day of the summit was also the launch of data.gov.ph, the Philippine data portal which serves as the repository of all government data that has so far been made public. It was also the same time the launch of the revised Full Disclosure Policy portal (see  http://fdpp.blgs.gov.ph/).  Secretary Lacierda led the ceremonial launch of data.gov.ph while Undersecretary Austere Panadero led the launch of the Full Disclosure Policy.

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 Celebrates Christmas 2013

???????????????????????????????
Step Up team during the Christmas gathering in December 2013.

The team of Step Up Consulting chose to celebrate Christmas 2013 in a simple but meaningful gathering held at Dao Diamond Hotel in Tagbilaran City last 21 December 2013.  The activity gathered the consultants, researchers, and administrative staff of the firm who were involved in its various projects in 2013.  

It has been a tradition of Step Up Consulting  to gather its team every end of the year to say thank you to the people that has contributed to the achievements of the firm.  For ten years now, Step Up Consulting has benefited from the competence and commitment of its pool of consultants, researchers, and administrative staff who, despite their work commitments elsewhere, contributed expertise and dedication to the firm’s projects.

From a company that started offering services by using computers at internet cafes, Step Up Consulting has grown into a firm that earned the respect not only of Philippine companies but also organizations based abroad.  Originally, it offered management consulting services to for-profit institutions but now, the firm’s portfolio is largely composed of government agencies and non-governmental organizations. Step Up’s services also as expanded to research and evaluation, and capacity building.

Despite the natural calamities that affected the province of Bohol and the country in the last quarter of the year, the company is still thankful because its team members delivered its commitments to clients and share resources to those affected by the calamity.  

Step Up attends ICTD 2013

ICTD 2013Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting Services was one of the 40 emerging scholars invited to attend the ICT and Development Conference in Cape Town, South Africa scheduled on 7-10 December 2013.  The conference is one of the premier gatherings of researchers, scholars, and professionals working in the area of ICT and its role in social, economic, and political development.

IDRC and the Government of Canada funded the participation of Mr. Canares to attend the event and a pre-conference research training facilitated by the University of Cape Town (UCT) and University of Western Cape (UWC).  The pre-conference training, which focuses on Opening Up the ICT Ecosystem through Inclusion, Training, and Dialogue (OUITD), is held from 2-6 December 2013, in the facilities of UCT and UWC.

According to OUITD program chair Prof. Julian May, there were approximately 180 applicants for the program. A total of 40 participants were selected coming from different countries as Canada, USA, UK, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mongolia, and the Philippines, among others. Mr. Canares is the only representative of the Philippines to the program.

Mr. Canares’ work presented in the conference is on e-taxation. Fieldwork was conducted with the assistance of Step Up research associate Ms. Vera Villocido-Gisete.