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.

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 Managing Consultant Lectures in UKZN-Durban

UKZNMichael Canares, Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting Services, speaks as guest lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-NatalGraduate School of Business and Leadership in Durban, South Africa last 11 December 2013. Mr. Canares was invited by Dr. Jennifer Houghton, academic leader of the Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative of the school. Mr. Canares and Dr. Houghton spent a fellowship together at Brown University in the US in June 2010.

Mr. Canares’ talk, attended by academics and graduate students of the school, was entitled “When Investing in the Local Does or Does Not Work:  Case Studies from Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines”.  The presentation focused on four case studies and argues that there are defining patterns where investments in local development work and contexts where the power of the local can be harnessed to achieve desirable social ends.

In his introduction to Mr. Canares, Professor Stephen Migiro, Dean and Head of School expressed optimism that future partnerships can be explored by the school and Mr. Canares, as well as with Holy Name University, where Mr. Canares serves as managing editor of an academic journal.

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 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.

Step Up Assists PCW

PCWStep Up Consulting Services assisted the Philippine Commission on Women in refining the results chain of one of the components of a project it implements with the support of AECID.  This activity was done in a training workshop held in Manila last 19-21 November.

The training workshop was attended by representatives from 6 provinces, namely, Aklan, Albay, Iloilo, Mindoro, Saranggani, and Surigo del Norte as well as by representatives from the Project Management Office and the Philippine Commission on Women.

The objectives of the training-workshop were to make participants understand the  basic concepts and principles of RBM as a tool in project development and management; practice the use of the RBM tools using the three-year project target for LGUs; arrive at clear indicators for the 3 year-targets and provide an overview of project development and management including its planning methodologies and tools.

The participatory, inter-active, and activity-based learning sessions proved productive with the adult learners.  The participants were able to efficiently assimilate new concepts better because of this approach.  Likewise, the RBM workshops helped crystalize ideas of participants and made more explicit their theories of change in so far as the project is concerned.

The diversity of outputs is impressive in terms of sectors and themes.  Saranggani concentrated on indigenous communities and indigenous women, Aklan on VAW victims, Albay on disaster-prone communities.  Surigao del Norte and Mindoro focused on women entrepreneurs while Iloilo tried to cover several marginalized women groups.

Step Up will continue to assist PCW in this project.

2 Step Up Consultants Attend OEGN Meeting

OEGN TagaytayTwo 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.