Step Up Conducts Leadership Training for HS Students

IMG_20150704_090228Step Up Consulting sponsors the leadership training of thirty high school students of Sacred Heart College in Calamba Misamis Occidental.  The training was part of the SHS Alumni Batch 91 activities of which Step Up’s strategy advisor is the class president.  The training was conducted on 4 July 2015 at the school’s audio-visual room.

The students selected to attend the training were classroom officers of the school.  They were treated to a day of structure learning experiences, brief talks, and group-sharing activities to hone their skills in managing and leading groups.  The training drew heavily from Blanchard’s situational leadership principles.

Students who attended the training appreciated the value of activity and the school faculty expressed appreciation for the support of the sponsoring group.  Training program was provided by Step Up Consulting staff while food and logistics were shouldered by Batch 91.

Step Up Welcomes Dr. Marcial

Step Up welcomes Dr. Dave Marcial who joins the firm’s roster of consultants and provide services to clients.

daveDr. Dave Marcial is dean of computer studies at Silliman University. Dave’s research is on ICT applications and how this has impacted society more particularly the education sector, drawing from extensive studies in IT (bachelor and masters) and blending that with his doctorate degree in educational management. Dave is an author of numerous papers and has presented his work in different conferences in the Philippines and abroad.  He is currently the president of the Philippine Society for IT educators, and the founder of the Society for Information and Communication Technology in Teacher Education.  More information regarding Dave can be found here.

He joins the research team for for the Encite OGD project that Step Up implemented with funding support from the International Development Research Center.

 

Step Up Facilitates Agency Readiness Assessment

(This post was written by Open Data Task Force and originally appeared in http://data.gov.ph/news/open-data-stocktake-workshop).  

Following our recent collaboration for the Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data (EnCitE-OGD) project, the Open Data Task Force and Step Up Consulting Services again worked together to organize the Open Data Stocktake Workshop. Held from March 10-11, 2015, the workshop introduced government agency representatives to a matrix designed to evaluate agency readiness for open data. The tool—called the Benchmark on Readiness for Open Agency Data (BROAD)—was developed by Step Up Consulting as a standard for assessing the open data capacities and practices of agencies. Using the BROAD tool, a total of 63 participants—representing 23 government agencies—rated their agencies’ readiness to implement open data and integrate it in their activities.

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The workshop was conducted over two days, catering to different sets of agencies. The program began with welcome remarks from Undersecretary Bon Moya of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). He updated the attendees on the Task Force’s 2014 milestones, including legislative advancements and a DBM-specific skills training session. He also discussed the results of the recent Open Data Barometer, which identified areas of improvement for the Philippines. His remarks were followed by a short presentation from Shita Laksmi of the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI), which provided funding support for the workshop. She gave an overview of SEATTI’s work in various countries, emphasizing issues such as election monitoring, social accountability, and public service delivery. Overall, SEATTI’s goal is to build linkages with partners and create a supportive ecosystem that contributes toward public sector transparency and accountability.

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In support of this commitment, SEATTI awarded Step Up Consulting with a research grant for a project called “From Motivation to Use: Stakeholder Interests and Initial Results of the Philippine Open Data Portal.” The BROAD tool was developed as part of this project. During the Stocktake Workshop, Michael Cañares of Step Up Consulting gave an in-depth introduction to the tool, which breaks down agency readiness into 8 elements and 12 indicators.

Elements Corresponding indicator/s
Element 1: Leadership Indicator 1: Level of commitment of agency leaders to institutionalize open data within the agency
Element 2: Strategic/Policy Framework Indicator 2: Presence of whole-of-agency strategy/policy regarding open data
Element 3: Data Management Systems Indicator 3: Comprehensiveness of information on data assets and requirements
Indicator 4: Availability of a clearly-defined technical standards for data publication
Indicator 5: Adequacy of data release practices
Element 4: Organizational Structure Indicator 6: Functionality of a team, unit, or working group on open data
Element 5: User Engagement Practices Indicator 7: Extent of agency efforts in engaging both internal and external users of open agency data
Indicator 8: Responsiveness of agency to user request or demand for open agency data
Element 6: Knowledge and Skills Indicator 9: Level of knowledge and understanding of open data at all levels in the organization
Indicator 10: Level of technical knowledge and skills of open data unit or team in the agency regarding open data and data management
Element 7: Financing and Budget Indicator 11: Amount of financial allocation for open data activities and initiatives
Element 8: Technological Infrastructure Indicator 12: Adequacy of technology to implement open data initiatives

In discussing BROAD, Cañares stressed that it is a living document—that it could change based on suggestions from the agencies themselves, the end users of the tool. He and Outreach Lead Ivygail Ong described it as “a conversation between the Open Data Task Force and the agencies concerned.” The representatives responded by seeking clarifications about the tool and open data in general. One participant asked whether there is a passing score for BROAD (none; the intention is to assess weak points and determine levels of support), while others raised concerns about post-administration continuity and current practices regarding the selling of government data. Such dialogue is crucial to the evolution and advancement of open data. While some answers may not yet be clear, the mere opening of these topics allows for discussion and the generation of new ideas.

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In the afternoon, the attendees were given time to rate their agencies on each of the 12 indicators using a 0-4 scale. Afterward, they shared their scores with the group and explained their justifications for each. The wide range of scores testifies to the variety of their stories, owing to such factors as agency size and budget. One important finding is that larger agencies usually experience more difficulty, since they would need to train more people and stretch an already strained budget. Another is the existence of a strong correlation between the agencies’ Indicator 1 scores and the rest of their ratings. This suggests that, among the elements, Leadership has the greatest impact on outcome.

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The workshop ended with a few remarks from Ong, who thanked the participants for their input and assured them that the Task Force will conduct follow-up coordination within the next weeks. She also asked them for recommendations on future activities. The attendees responded with specific requests, such as assistance in crafting an internal policy for open data and skills training sessions.

Just as these trainings need to be conducted on a per-agency basis, so do data exchange and coordination have to be adjusted according to each agency’s situation. The results of the Stocktake Workshop establish that agencies have varying levels of open data readiness, and thus need different types of support. Building on these findings, the Task Force will continue to work together with agencies to liberate more data and lay down practices that will contribute to government transparency for years to come.

 

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

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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.

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.

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De Guia’s presentation
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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.

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(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.