PH-OGP, The Philippine open government partnership

Part  One

Simply, we wish to bring to greater awareness this ongoing program that promises long-lasting positive influence to good governance in the government, with the strong engagement of the private sector.  Let the PH-OGP brochure say it in a capsule:

“The Philippines is one of the eight founding countries of the Open Government Partnership [OGP], a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. On September 20, 2011, during the formal launching of the OGP, the country’s leaders endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced its country action plan in a formal ceremony at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, US.

“Today, the new administration under President Duterte remains committed to expand, deepen and institutionalize ongoing governance reform initiatives. Part of this commitment is the implementation of the Third Philippine OGP National Action Plan.

“Moving forward, the Philippines aims to develop a new PH-OGP Action Plan that is in line with the reform and partnership for change agenda of the new government. The plan is to deepen the consultation process further, include more branches in government, and give the citizens a proactive role in the PH-OGP process.”

A distinctive characterization of PH-OGP is the wide participatory engagement of public and private sectors—in the formulation of National Action Plans (NAP); in their implementation; in their monitoring; and in the evaluation of performance. The NAP consists of very specific projects as prioritized, identifying implementers in both government and private sectors, establishing two-year cycle achievement goals, requiring performance documentation and reports not just to national but to international review boards or monitoring entities.

There is a national PH-OGP Steering Committee that exercises oversight functions over the development and implementation of the NAP, half of the membership from the government and half from the private sector, emphasizing the multistakeholder cooperation.  A participative structure of collaborative work is in place.

The PH-OGP has a technical working group composed of technical representatives from the DBM, DILG, Neda and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary and non-governmental Steering Committee members. All decisions, agreements and action items are documented and posted online through the OGP web site.

Membership of non-governmental representatives in the steering committee is distributed by sector: four from civil-society organizations (CSOs), in turn, representing the National Capital Region, Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao; two from academe; one from business (currently Finex); and one from a public-sector union.

The international development partners of OGP include USAID, UNDP, ADB, World Bank, Make All Voices Count Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency.

In the 2015-2017 PH-OGP Plan, there were identified 13 programs/initiatives, most of which, by self-evaluation, were rated satisfactory in their fulfillment of commitments/targets.  These programs are ongoing.

Let us choose one example from the PH-OGP Status Report Summary as of December 2016, to appreciate the value of this partnership.

In the 2015-2017 PH-OGP Plan, the first program/initiative identified was the “full disclosure policy” (FDP) under which there would be—“Mandatory disclosure of key financial documents of LGUs [e.g., budget, procurement and special purpose fund reports, such as internal revenue allotments] in the FDP portal and in at least three conspicuous places.”

The commitments of the national government through the DILG, and of the local governments, through the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines (Ulap), were for provinces, cities and municipalities to be fully complying to the FDP at 75 percent participation by 2015, 80 percent by 2016 and 85 percent by 2017.

On the part of the private sector, through the Budget Advocacy Group (BAG), the commitment was to use the uploaded data in the FDP portal in at least five regions and produce reports or data visualization.

As of the third quarter of 2016, the DILG and Ulap commitments have been fulfilled (80-percent full compliance).  As to BAG’s commitment, local CSOs in 15 LGUs in five regions have been trained in analyzing selected FDP data.  Development of one visualization is ongoing, as of year-end 2016.

In other words, commitments are being accomplished. The openness in reporting performance by LGUs is taking root, and as this openness creates its own momentum of compliance, in nation-wide observance, with national government support, and private sector continuing engagement and encouragement, an open government culture gets progressive traction. This is significant to allow citizen constituents to participate proactively in their own local government affairs—intelligently and positively on a well-informed basis.

That’s grassroots democracy exemplified. Change is coming. Believe that.