Enhancing citizen engagement with open government data
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in 2011 implemented the Full Disclosure Policy which directs local government units (LGUs) to post public finance documents including receipt and utilisation of funds in LGU websites. The objective is to make local governments more accountable with the assumption that citizens or their representatives understand and are able to use these information. Very recently, DILG required the publication of reports in open format (at the current stage, in spreadsheets) at the Full Disclosure Policy portal (http://fdpp.blgs.gov.ph)
However, the current research conducted by Step Up Consulting Services supported by the International Development Research Center through the World Wide Web Foundation revealed that while provincial governments in Bohol, Bulacan, and South Cotabato post financial information in their websites, these are hardly used by civil society organizations (CSOs) for their own decision-making processes, for engaging with provincial government in budgeting processes, and in ensuring transparency and accountability in the procurement of projects and the disbursement of public funds. In the most extreme cases, the CSOs are not even aware that the information exists and how they will be able to use them. This project takes the view that for a more transparent and accountable local governance, civil society groups, media, and the business sector, needs to proactively engage with local government units through open government data in order to achieve transparency and accountability, or better service delivery to citizens.
In this case, it is important that while significant efforts have been made by the government to open data to the public, this is matched with a capacity building program that would enable citizens to engage with government data. However, little is known about how this would be done in the local context in the Philippines, so this research is considered critical and important in moving the discussion of openness towards better citizen engagement in local governance.