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South Cotabato Design Report 2018-2020

South Cotabato’s first action plan focuses on thematic areas of importance to the province: open information, open monitoring and evaluation, open contracting, open mining, and open legislation. These commitments reflect the province’s rich legacy of transparent, accountable, and participatory governance. While the action plan was developed with collaboration between the government, civil society, and private sector, there remains an opportunity to expand communication and outreach beyond the provincial capital and the multistakeholder forum.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2018

Action plan under review: 2018−2020

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 5

 

Action plan development

Is there a multistakeholder forum: Yes

Level of public influence: Collaborate

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

 

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values: 5 (100%)

Transformative commitments: 0 (0%)

Potentially starred: 0 (0%)

 

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with Major DIOG*: N/A

Commitments with Outstanding DIOG*: N/A

 

 

*DIOG: Did it Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. South Cotabato joined OGP in 2018. This report evaluates the design of South Cotabato’s first action plan.

General overview of action plan

South Cotabato’s first action plan leverages the OGP platform to address policy issues aligned with local priorities around transparency and openness. The plan builds on the province’s rich legacy of transparent, accountable, and participatory governance to propose five commitments in the areas of access to information, project monitoring, procurement and contracting, governance of mining activities, and legislative information and processes.

Coordinated by the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), the development of the action plan was a collaborative process centered around deliberations of the multistakeholder South Cotabato Integrity Circle (SCIC), which served as the MSF. The MSF comprised of representatives from the South Cotabato provincial government, civil society, and the private sector. The co-creation of the action plan, and the OGP initiative as a whole, benefitted from the high-level support and involvement of the Governor and Legislative Council through the Vice-Governor, and was institutionalized through a series of ordinances, resolutions, and executive orders.

The SCIC/MSF generally convenes on a quarterly basis but met over four special meetings to co-create the action plan. During these co-creation events, non-governmental stakeholders of the MSF were able to propose and advocate for the inclusion of commitments in thematic areas that aligned both with their own and local priorities. Six thematic areas were shortlisted in this manner and considered against commitment selection criteria outlined by the PPDO. Relevance to a priority governance issue and implementation feasibility were key criteria, resulting in stakeholders dropping the open budget thematic area from consideration.

The MSF then conceptualized specific, draft commitments at a closed, yet multi-sectoral, co-creation workshop and allowed participants to comment on these drafts. The PPDO held two rounds of more inclusive consultations with village leaders and invited feedback from the general public. The PPDO then drafted the action plan and presented it to the MSF for adoption.

This process yielded an action plan containing three commitments that are expected to have moderate potential impact, which represent major steps forward in their policy areas. Two commitments will have minor potential impact, i.e., limited yet incremental improvements in their areas. All five commitments were specific enough to be verifiable and all were relevant to OGP values. Reflecting a focus on transparency and openness, all five commitments will improve access to information using technology and innovation.

Going forward, the process will be strengthened from wider and more effective outreach and consultation, premised upon adequate advance notice, and active involvement of stakeholders beyond the MSF in proposing and selecting final commitments.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle.
4. Open Mining Information

Increase citizen engagement in mining governance and improve access to related information through online and offline communication.

The Provincial Environmental Management Office (PEMO) could outline mechanisms to ensure that improved opportunities for citizen engagement clearly influence decisions and translate into co-created policies. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
5. Open Legislation

Broaden civic engagement in legislative processes through increased access to related information.

The office of the local legislature, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, could supplement online legislative information with extensive offline dissemination to ensure wider reach. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Recommendations

The IRM’s five key recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan. They build on the maturity of OGP processes and efforts in the county, as well as findings from the assessment and priorities raised by the stakeholders interviewed for this report.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

Support non-MSF member CSOs and NGOs to participate in the OGP process through outreach, capacity-building, and stronger mechanisms for accreditation.
Enhance efforts to raise awareness of the OGP initiative throughout the development and implementation of the action plan.
Pilot subprovincial integrity programs for eventual scaling up and creation of “integrity indices” and metrics to foster competitiveness across the province.
Scope and enter into agreements with potential partners who can provide technical assistance, especially for subprovincial initiatives.
Enter into formal partnership agreements through MoUs for all five commitments.

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Filed under: IRM IRM Report

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