Step Up Trains Ugandan CSOs on Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

Step Up’s strategy advisor, Michael Canares, was contracted by Common Ground Consulting to train civil society organizations (CSOs) on monitoring, evaluation, and learning. The training, which was held on 15-18 February 2022 via Zoom, is part of the various training programs conducted for Ugandan CSOs by the Civil Society Strengthening Activity (CSSA) training program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

Twenty-two CSOs attended the training. The cohort included representatives from the Uganda Women’s Network, the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, White Ribbon Alliance, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, ICT Policy Center for Eastern and Southern Africa, among others.

Synchronous sessions took place from 1 to 5 pm Uganda time (5 to 10 pm Philippine time). Asynchronous sessions, on the other hand, took place every morning of each day through organization-based assignments that are required to be presented during the synchronous sessions each day.

The participants appreciated the training design and delivery. At the end of the training, most of them were excited to use their knowledge to improve the M&E systems of their organizations.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Speaks at Indonesia’s Ministry of Home Affairs Forum

Mr. Michael Canares, Step Up Consulting’s strategy advisor was invited by the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs to speak at their workshop on “Leading Innovation in a Digital World”. The workshop was held online, attended by more than 200 participants – leaders of MOHA across Indonesia, last 24 November 2021.

Mr. Canares spoke about data-driven governance. He was invited through the Ford Foundation, once a partner of the Open Data Lab Jakarta where he was the Senior Research Manager for digital citizenship for almost three years. Mr. Canares spoke about concrete examples were governments across the world use data to improve public service delivery, strengthen effective public management, increase accountability mechanisms for public officials, and enhance citizen participation in governance.

Step Up Conducts Training on Local Road Asset Management for Negros Oriental

Step Up Consulting strategy advisor was invited by the Provincial Government of Negros Oriental to conduct a training on Local Road Asset Management for the members of its local road network management committee. The training was conducted online last October 29-November 5, 2021.

The participants comprised of representatives from the provincial offices of engineering, accounting, planning and development, budget, treasury, internal audit, general services, and assessor. The training was based entirely on the Local Road Asset Management Manual (see picture above) prepared by Mr. Michael Canares for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with funding and technical support from the United Nations Development Program.

On 16 November 2020, DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano issued DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-155 mandating the adoption of the Local Road Asset Management Manual by local government units. This aims to improve the valuation and recording of local road assets for better local road management.

Step Up Advisor Moderates ASEAN Conference on Climate-Smart Land Use

Mr. Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting will be the moderator of the upcoming ASEAN Conference on Policy and Governance for Climate-Smart Land Use. The conference is organized by the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). GIZ collaborates with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and several other partner organisations to hold this conference.

The conference will be held online on 16-18 November 2021. The conference will tackle three themes, namely:

a. Multi-level Governance for Climate-Smart Land Use

b. Inclusive and Participatory Policy Making for Promotion and Adoption of Climate-Smart Land Use

c. Enabling environment for private investments into Climate-Smart Land Use

The conference is expected to attract policy-makers from ASEAN member states working in the fishery, agriculture, and forestry sectors, rural development and environmental activists, development agencies, research institutions and civil society organisations from across the region.

Step Up Publishes Three New Papers on Open Contracting during the time of COVID

Step Up Consulting has recently published three research papers on open contracting and its role during the COVID 19 pandemic. The research conducted in 2020 covers two countries, Guatemala and the Philippines.

Hivos, a non-government organization based in the Netherlands, commissioned the research to provide evidence that can be used by local actors and donors in the design, implementation, and advocacy for inclusive crisis response and recovery.

The research highlights at least four key findings:

  1. During during times of emergencies, it is easy to ignore differences in context, needs, and vulnerabilities.
  2. Poor inclusion outcomes in COVID-19 response are a result of the lack of participation of people outside government in the design, implementation, and monitoring of initiatives to contain the virus and cushion the population against adverse economic impacts.
  3. Data and information is a critical component in a more effective and inclusive emergency response. When information is provided, it opens up spaces for discussion, contestation, and productive collaboration.
  4. The role of intermediaries can not be overemphasised in ensuring that procurement during the times of crisis is transparent and accountable. Without intermediaries, like media, watchdogs, or social accountability advocates and organisations, to scrutinise procurement records including those indicating the receipt of goods and services, as well as its consequent distribution and/or utilisation, a more accountable procurement process can not be achieved.

The full paper for the Philippines is available here while that of Guatemala can be accessed via this link.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates ASEAN Workshop

PHOTO-2019-02-27-16-38-07(39) (1)

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 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 Develops Guide on Road Asset Valuation

LRMPATStep Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Louis Berger Group, Inc. to draft the guidelines n Provincial Road Asset Valuation based on inputs from the Department of Public Works and Highways,  the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia.

Road asset accounting is a problematic practice in the Philippines. The most recent pronouncement in road asset accounting was the New Government Accounting Systems (NGAS) promulgated in 2001 through COA Circular 2001-005. While the NGAS, through the NGAS Manual, prescribes the rules in accounting for road assets, the corresponding effect on financial statements is severe when the time the road assets are completed.  Road assets on construction are debited to a Construction in Progress account but this is eventually closed to Government Equity account upon road asset completion.  As a result, road assets are no longer valued in the financial statements but are only disclosed as Public Infrastructure in the Notes to Financial Statements.

This accounting treatment has several effects. Road assets are no longer treated as assets but expenses, theoretically, as the values are closed against the equity account. Correspondingly, monitoring these assets become virtually impossible because they are not considered as part of the fixed assets inventory, and thus, are not provided with depreciation.  While road condition of the province has improved because of the rehabilitation, the provincial LGU’s value (represented by its equity account) decreased because the assets are technically charged against the equity account.  Under normal circumstances, this could not have been possible.  Asset acquisitions should have increased the net value of a local government unit.

This engagement is critical to ensure that road assets are valued in financial statements of local government units.

Step Up Trains Community Leaders on Enterprise Management

A participant explains the asset and opportunities map during the enterprise development session.
A participant explains the asset and opportunities map during the enterprise development session.

PROCESS Bohol, Inc., commissioned Step Up Consulting to train its community leaders in Ubay, Bohol the basics of financial management.  The training, attended by more than 30 community leaders, was intended to assist the organizations manage their enterprises better and prepare them for eventual phase-out of PROCESS support.

Step Up has more than 10 years of conducting community-based trainings with different audiences – farmers, women micro-entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and local government leaders.  It uses participatory approaches in conducting its capacity building programs and makes use of “games” in order to “teach concepts”.  As one of the women leaders in this training remarked – “It is the first time that I understood complex financial management concepts in an easy, phased way”.

In the training, Step Up taught the community leaders the basics of enterprise management, how credit management is critical to business operations, and the different steps in ensuring that business decisions can be made based on available financial data.

Step Up Team Wins Research Grant

encite OGD logoStep Up is among the five researchers/research teams granted with research funds by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to undertake a study on the best method to build the capacity of civil society organizations on open government data. The action research entitled “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data” will be implemented in the next three months and is aimed at identifying the best approach to use in increasing citizen engagement with local governments through data sets published online.

The Step Up proposal was one of the more than 80 proposals screened by the OGP’s Open Data Working Group.  Among the proposals submitted, Step Up made it to the top five, together with Open North, Inc of Canada, Mitrovic Development and Research Institute of South Africa, Mark Frank of the United Kingdom, and Sunlight Foundation of the United States. Step Up is the only research team from Asia.

The announcement from OGP can be found here.