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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 groups. There 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.
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.
Michael Canares, Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting Services spoke on the topic “Planning, Constructing, Maintaining A Beach Resort in Paradise”. He shared the panel with Marcel Brunner, Swiss architect who built Alona Palm Beach Resort and Restaurant in 2000.
Mr. Brunner talked on the his dream of constructing a beach resort in Panglao, Bohol which he later implemented while Mr. Canares walked the audience through the challenges of maintaining the resort to standards, given the larger problems on spatial planning, environmental condition, and uneven development.
It can be recalled that Mr. Canares was Alona Palm Beach’s management consultant until the time that the property was sold to Hennan Resorts.
The lecture was held last 24 November at the Yuchengco Museum in Makati City. It was attended by more than 150 people – architects, architecture students, investors, and academics. The lecture is part of the lecture series that the Swiss embassy sponsors at the Yuchengco Museum in line with the 15oth celebration of Swiss-Philippine Relations. An exhibit, Swiss Positions: 33 Takes on Sustainable Approaches to Building is also on-going the the museum and the lectures that come with it runs until the first week of December.
The audience was challenged by Mr. Canares when he argued that much of the built environment in the next 100 years will be shaped by planners, architects, engineers. Mr. Canares challenged the architects in the audience to help society build a sustainable world.
Two consultants of Step Up Consulting Services attended the Open eGovernance Research Network Meeting held last 10-11 November 2012 at the Potter’s Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay. The meeting was sponsored by IdeaCorp, a non-stock non-profit corporation with Dr. Emmanuel Lallana as head.
Resident statistician of Step Up Ms. Jare Arawiran and Managing Consultant Michael Cañares attended the meeting. Mr. Canares presented the research proposal on open egovernance for local government units developed by the firm which initially got the nod of the World Wide Web Foundation and IDRC. Dr. Lallana is the Step Up’s appointed mentor.
The research network meeting was attended by researchers from across the globe, more notably Uganda, Canada, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, who are at the forefront in researching topics related to eGovernance.
Step Up Consulting Services welcomes two new associates who will form part of its roster of consultants and will join the firm in an upcoming research project.
Mr. Joseph de Guia holds a masters degree in information technology from the Carnegie Mellon University in Australia. He is currently the Knowledge Management and Business Analyst of PRMF, a facility supported by the Australian Agency for International Development. Mr. de Guia is a Dell certified systems expert and a Dell certified advance resolution expert and has an extensive experience in application development, database administration, web development, content management, and project and process modelling. Mr. de Guia is also a chemical engineer and an information technology graduate and has taught at Mapua Institute of Technology since 2006. Mr. de Guia’s research work on electronic health records and government enterprise architecture has been presented in international conferences. He has also worked as project manager in Australia on enterprise architecture development, asset management, CRM, and patient record management system.
Ms. Jaremilleta Arawiran is a Phd candidate at the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City with Research and Evaluation as her field of study. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the Ateneo de Manila University, a masters degree in Mathematics at USC, and has taught mathematics and statistics at Holy Name University since 2003. Ms. Arawiran has extensive research experience as a statistician in different research projects, more notably the Bohol Poll (an annual provincial public opinion polling system) and municipal planning monitoring of local government units. Ms. Arawiran is a sought-after speaker on different mathematics, statistics, and research topics more particularly on sampling, research design, assessment and questionnaire construction, data analysis, SPSS, and public opinion polling. She is a member of the Philippine Statistical Society and the National Council on Measurement of Education.