Step Up Assists DILG

Mr. Canares and the participants of the PRMF/DILG consultative workshop on LRMPA.
Mr. Canares and the participants of the PRMF/DILG consultative workshop on LRMPA.

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Provincial Road Management Facility to assist the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in reviewing its Local Road Management Performance Assessment Tool (LRMPAT), a tool in assessing the performance of local government units.   A consultative workshop was done with representatives of regional offices of DILG across the country last 22-23 May 2014 at The Linden Suites in Ortigas, Manila.

The Local Road Management Performance Assessment (LRMPA) Consultative Workshop started at 8:45 a.m. on 22 May with an opening program where Ms. Ruby Romero of DILG – SLRF  thanked the PRMF Team and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government for the support and partnership with DILG. For his part, Mr. Luke McNamara, Capacity Development Manager of PRMF emphasized the importance of sharing insights and experiences in the course of the workshop to further understand and improve the LRMPAT.

The LRMPAT was developed in 2012 when Mr. Canares was still the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator of PRMF.  The tool was pilot-tested in select cities and provinces in the same year to serve as input to the tool’s final revision.  Mr. Ronet Santos was then contracted by PRMF to facilitate the whole process.  In 2013, DILG rolled-out the implementation of the tool nationally and thus the need to hear the perspectives of those conducting the assessments in the provinces and cities.

A total of 46 participants attended the two-day workshop.  Mr. Michael Canares was the lead facilitator of the activity while Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes was its documenter.

Step Up is Represented in OGP Bali Conference

OGP Bali
Mr Canares with some of the members of the Philippine delegation together with Ambassador Aguinaldo and Maria Ressa of Rappler.

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up consulting is one of the representatives in the recent conference on Open Government Partnership held in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on May 6-7 2014.  The theme of the conference was “Unlocking Innovative Openness: Impetus to Greater Citizen Engagement“. The two-day event was opened with the plenary address of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in front of more than 500 delegates from across Asia-Pacific and the world.

Mr. Canares is one of the 30 Filipinos from government, academia, media, and civil society, who were invited to attend the high-level conference.  The conference discussed on the innovations, opportunities, limitations, and challenges of open government in the region.

Mr. Canares was the self-appointed rapporteur of the Open Data Research Network, a network of researchers on open data where Step Up Consulting is a member. During the course of the conference, he wrote two blog posts that were featured in the Open Government Partnership and cited in several articles on open governance and transparency.

The links to the posts on the Open Government Partnership website can be found here. These posts originally appeared in the Open Data Research Network website.

Day 1 Summary

Day 2 Summary

 

 

Step Up Facilitates Aklan Internal Audit Strengthening

Aklan Internal Audit Visits Bohol (L-R: Brenda Magalit, Mae Cawaling, Elyen Agcaoili of Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cecil Isubal of PRMF Aklan, and May Limbaga of Bohol Provincial Internal Audit Office)
Aklan Internal Audit Visits Bohol (L-R: Brenda Magalit, Mae Cawaling, Elyen Agcaoili of Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cecil Isubal of PRMF Aklan, and May Limbaga of Bohol Provincial Internal Audit Office)

Step Up Consulting facilitated the capacity building activities for the Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office (APIAO) through a series of on-site and online mentoring sessions intended to strengthen the capacity of APIAO in audit report writing and compliance monitoring.  Lead consultant Michael Canares facilitated the mentoring session on audit report writing in Kalibo last 2-3 April 2014 while Administrative Assistant Marilou Sale of Step Up coordinated the benchmarking visit of APIAO in Bohol last 9-11 April.

The APIAO team visited the office of the Provincial Administrator, AE Damalerio and Provincial Governor Edgar Chatto to learn about the support extended by the provincial government to Bohol’s internal audit team currently headed by May Limbaga.  They spent the whole day last 10 April 2014 to learn from the experience of Bohol’s Provincial Internal Audit Office, one of the very first local internal audit offices established in the country with the assistance of the Australian government.  The team also visited the Provincial Engineer’s Office and met with Engr. Gabino Redulla to learn about the road maintenance practices of the province.  At day’s end, they were given a short lecture on the role of internal audit in local governance in the road sector by Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF) Bohol Manager Rosalinda Paredes.

The APIAO team expressed their appreciation to the provincial government of Bohol and to Step Up Consulting for a very productive benchmarking visit.  It can be recalled that Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting was the first consultant who assisted Bohol’s internal audit office in crafting its audit charter, in finalising its internal audit plan, and in conducting risk analysis using process-based approach sometime in 2010 when the office was still starting.  Currently, Bohol’s internal audit office is one of the few strong internal audit teams among the 10 provinces supported by PRMF.

Step Up Evaluates SWCF Project in Batuan

Mrs Marcela Dapar
Mrs. Marcela Dapar, a beneficiary of the SWCF project. Image courtesy of DISOP.

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation (SWCF) to conduct the terminal evaluation of a three–year project on income generation, community organization strengthening, and environmental management funded by DISOP and Misereor, two European-based NGOs.  The project, “Employability and Capability Building of Farmes in Selected Barangays of Batuan Bohol” aims, that by the end of 2013, the livelihood and sustainable income of members of the communities in 7 barangays along the Makapiko River and its tributaries in Batuan Municipality of Bohol is secured for the long term.  It also strengthens previously assisted organizations of SWCF in the Eskaya communities in Sierra Bullones, Pilar, Garcia Hernandez, and Guindulman.

All seven barangays directly assisted have people’s organization, mostly in the form of cooperatives and associations. The five of the organizations are considered weak in their structure, have limited membership, and are not very stable as a potential source of income, training, reasonable credit and entrepreneurship development for the community. In most areas there is poor implementation of environment laws that has led to environmental degradation in terms of chemical pollution (pesticide and commercial fertilizer), solid waste pollution, removal of forest cover, biodiversity loss through hunting and collection of flora and fauna and disturbance of local caves and their resources.  All these activities are magnified when done on karst because of the very nature of the geological formation itself.

To respond to these concerns, the project aims to achieve three objectives, to wit;

  1. Associations/NGOs are capacitated to manage their affairs and link among themselves and other stakeholders to create a sustainable and conducive environment for securing their livelihoods.
  2. Agricultural and non- agricultural enterprises for the local residents, especially those who are now below the poverty line are newly created and strengthened.
  3. Project beneficiaries are better capacitated to deal with adverse affects of climate, political and social disturbances as well as able to reverse the environmental degradation of their natural resources.
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Alvin Luis Acuzar, Evaluation Team Leader

Mr. Alvin Luis Acuzar, former associate of Step Up manages the evaluation project.  Alvin is currently the Executive Director of the Bol-anon United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC).  He is joined by Doreen Lerin, Marilou Sale, Lorebien Lagapa, Arlen Salgados-Canares, and Edaline Bolotaulo, all seasoned community researchers of Step Up with more than five years of experience in development evaluation.

This evaluation has three objectives:

  1. To evaluate the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and outcomes of the project to the situation of targeted people and groups in the community, with particular focus on farmers and their families.
  2. To evaluate the effectiveness of the projects in view of their objectives and to analyse the sustainability of the project results
  3. To assess the roles and contributions of the different stakeholders in the implementation of the project

Project evaluation is one of the core services of Step Up.  In the past, Step Up has been engaged by Kindernothilfe Germany, World Vision Philippines, Fundacion Ipade (Spain), and SABIC (Belgium), Simag Foundation, Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water, and other organizations engaged in development work in the country and elsewhere.

The project evaluation started in July and will end in September this year.

Step Up Assists Bukidnon Province on PFM

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A training on Fiduciary Risk Assessment on the Use of Financial and Procurement Systems for PRMF Funds was conducted on June 4-7, 2013 at The Gardens, in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.  The training was attended by representatives from the different road-sector related offices of the Provincial Government of Bukidnon, more particulary, the Provincial Engineer’s Office, Provincial General Services Office, Provincial Budget Office, Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Internal Audit Services Office, Provincial Accountant’s Office, Provincial Legal Office, the Provincial Human Resource Management and Development Office, and the Bids and Awards Committee Secretariat.

The objective of the engagement is to improve the capacities of the Provincial Government of Bukidnon on risk assessment particularly fiduciary risk and determine measures or treatments that could be implemented to reduce the impact of the fiduciary risks.

Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting was the resource person for the said training.  The participants expressed high satisfaction of the results of the training.  As customary, evaluation sheets were distributed to participants where they rated their experience in term of three areas – content, process and facilitator. The ratings indicated that the content is applicable to the workplace of the participants, that there is appropriate amount of information discussed in the workshop, and that the knowledge they have learned are new to them.  They also said that they were able to fully participate in the sessions, discuss and form their ideas,  and that they are eager to apply their learning when they go back to their work stations.

Capacity building is one of the strongest areas of Step Up’s services.  As expected, the participants commented that the learning facilitator managed the learning process and time well, that he relayed the knowledge to participants in an understandable and clear manner. Mr. Canares was also seen as very responsive to participants questions and flexible enough to adapt to the learning temperament of participants.

 

Step Up Represented in ODDC Meeting in London

MPC with Tim Berners LeeMichael Canares, Team Leader of the Open LGU Research Project attended the first network meeting of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC Project)  Research Project in London.  In this photo, Michael Canares is with Tim Berners-Lee and the researchers from De La Salle University, Manila, who are also part of the ODDC project.  Tim Berners Lee invented the world wide web in 1989 and is the founding director of the World Wide Web Foundation, the implementer of the ODDC project.

The network meeting was held at the Open Data Institute in London, United Kingdom last 24-25 April, 2013.  It was an an opportunity for project leaders of the 17 projects to get to know each other, and to explore shared research issues in understanding emerging impacts of open data.

 

The participants also attended an evening reception prior to the meeting at the Lancaster House co-hosted by the Open Government Partnership steering committee.  At this reception, Web Foundation founder, and Web inventor, Sir Tim Berner-­Lee formally launched the ODDC project and expressed the importance and potential contribution of the research to the work of the Open Government partnership, more particularly in exploring issues related to the use of open government data across the globe.

While in London, Mr. Canares also took the opportunity to attend the symposium on Data Driven Public Services hosted by Future Gov and sponsored by Capita. In this symposium, examples of how data can be effectively used to deliver services on the part of governments, or demand for better service delivery, on the part of citizens and neighborhoods.

 

 

Step Up Trains LGU GST Facilitators

Buenavista TOT TrainingStep Up Consulting Services trained 14 representatives of LGU Buenavista on how to conduct gender-sensitivity trainings as part of the assistance of the GREAT Women Project to the municipality.  The training was conducted in 20-23 March 2013 at Galilea Center for Education and Development and was attended by representatives from the local government unit of Buenavista, the Department of Education, and the local community college.

The GREAT Women project aimed to enhance the enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment (WEE)resulting in sustainable livelihoods for women. It sought to contribute to a gender-responsive environment for the economic empowerment of women, particularly women in microenterprises. In Bohol, the GREAT Women project is implemented in the municipalities of Buenavista, Balilihan, and Jagna.

Step Up managing consultant, Michael Canares, has been assisting the GREAT Women Project (GWP)  not only in Bohol, but also nationally.  In 2010, Mr. Canares facilitated the re-scoping workshop of GWP after its midterm evaluation. Besides Bohol, Mr. Canares also assisted the Metro Naga and Iloilo.

The participants of the training were very thankful to GWP and to the facilitator because they learned significantly from the sessions.  They did not only learn how to facilitate GST sessions, but also how to design participatory events on GST.

Step Up Implements Open LGU Research Project.

logoStep Up Consulting Services is one of the implementers of a global research project “Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries”.  The project is a “multi-country, multi-year study led by the World Wide Web Foundation to understand how open data is being put to use in different countries and contexts across the developing world.”

Step Up’s proposal was one of the 17 research projects conducted across the world, and the second in the Philippines. The research project is entitled “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?” or otherwise known as the “Open LGU Research Project” looks at how the sharing of governance information online has impacted on local government systems, and how the information and data has been accessed and used by civil society representatives and intermediary groups. The project will identify policies and processes that could support the Philippines to more fully realise an open government data agenda for local government, and will identify challenges currently faced in the supply and use of local government data.

The project expects to contribute to the Department of Interior and Local Government’s efforts regarding the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP), as this would be the first time that a study of this scale will be conducted to know how local government compliance to the FDP has impacted on local governance, more particularly in three provinces across the country.

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Step Up Assists AECID-assisted project on gender mainstreaming

SAM_0333Step Up Consulting Services assisted an AECID project implemented in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women in firming up its results chain and project formulacion.

The “Institutional Strengthening of National and Local Governance on Human Rights and Economic Empowerment with a Gender Focus: Implementation of the Magna Carta of Women,” is a project partnership between the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). AECID supports PCW’s mandate under the Magna Carta of Women as the over-all monitoring and oversight agency in ensuring the implementation of the law. The project will also provide assistance to oversight national government agencies and selected local government units in performing their roles relative to the realization of their mandates under MCW.

Step Up facilitated the workshop held at Lima Park Hotel. It was attended by key personnel of the project last January 2012. An indepth review of the draft PCW-AECID Project Implementation Plan, Project Formulation Document and draft Performance Measurement Frameworks of LGUs was done to serve as basis in the revision of the results chain and the corresponding measurement indicators.

Step Up Celebrates 2013 with renewed optimism

Step Up Consulting Services held its pre-New Year party last 29 December 2012New Year Party at the Villa Alzhun Tourist Inn and Restaurant.  The party, attended by Step Up pool of consultants, their kids, and the trainees of the firm in the summer of 2012, was intended to celebrate the accomplishments of the firm in 2012 and also thank its main stakeholders within the firm in its contribution for the upcoming projects of the organization in 2013.

Step Up is now on its 9th year and its pool of consultants has significantly grown.  Its pool of consultants are researchers, local government practitioners, development workers, and professors who are committed to the the development of organizations, institutions, and communities.  Established as a social enterprise, Step Up is dedicated to assisting local communities, people’s organizations, local government units, non-profits, and business enterprises, in the delivery of services that benefits the society in general.

Step Up is also committed to training future leaders. As a strategy, it accepts five trainees each summer, selected from several applicants, to be trained in the provision of capacity building, financial management, and development research services to clients; these are the firm’s core services. Previous interns later became CPA board exam placers while majority now holds successful jobs within the country and elsewhere.

Step Up thanks its previous clients for believing in the capacity of the firm to provide quality services.  In 2013, Step Up plans to launch two programs that will benefit communities as well as children.