Data Access Towards Accountable Governance (DATAGov) Project
Data Access Towards Accountable Governance (DATAGov), a 12-month project supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is aimed at enriching citizen participation in local governance by assisting civil society organizations (CSOs) to more effectively use government data towards evidence-based agenda building, advocacy and planning.
With the Aquino administration introducing several reform initiatives that enable greater transparency in government processes and more active citizen participation, including Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB), Full Disclosure Policy (FDP) for local government units (LGUs), Seal of Good Local Governance and the Performance Challenge Fund, among others, CSOs are challenged to increase capacities in understanding and engaging technical processes and documents made publicly available by the aforementioned reforms.
The Full Disclosure Policy, for one, has already mandated the public posting (physical and virtual through the FDP Portal) of LGU documents, including financial transaction documents, so that any CSO or citizen can access and analyze these documents. Uptake and utilization of the documents and the portal itself has not been encouraging however, mainly due to the lack of technical competency to understand and analyze the documents, coupled with the lack of awareness and public appreciation of the policy and the portal.
With DATAGov, it is hoped that CSOs will have increased their familiarity and capacity to understand and engage discourse on LGU spending priorities and become better equipped in the advocacy for local development priorities through the BUB and local government planning and budgeting. As a pilot intervention, it is initially implemented in 15 cities and municipalities across 5 provinces in partnership with the National Council of Social Development (NCSD) and the Open Heart Foundation, Inc. in Laguna, the Coalition for Bicol Development (CBD) and the Albay Provincial NGO-PO Network for Development Inc. (ALPRODEV) in Albay, the Central Visayas Network of NGOs (CenVISNET) and Kaabag sa Sugbo in Cebu, Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA) and the Centre for Social Concerns and Development (CESCOD) in Zamboanga del Norte, and the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) and Kahugpungasan sa Mindanao (KAMI) in Misamis Oriental.
The project has already endeavored to gather and process budget and other selected FDP documents of the pilot sites and presented the initial results of the analysis to a panel of known experts on LGU budgeting and development planning. After the Regional Orientation Workshops, the partner organizations are expected to conduct their own orientation workshops in their respective cities and municipalities with the expectation of increasing competencies and strengthening constituencies for engaging in evidence-based advocacy and planning. Lessons and experiences from pilot will be reported and shared through a National Conference and media briefing in January 2016.