The project aimed to increase and sustain the participation of CSO in public procurement processes, which covers procurement monitoring until contract implementation, to improve the management and utilization of public funds and to serve as deterrent against graft and corruption in the implementation of crucial programs, activities, and projects of the agency.
Background and Problem
The presence of observers is integral to the principles of transparency, accountability, and public monitoring enshrined in Republic Act 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. The 2012 Country Procurement Assessment Report (CPAR) also recognizes that the participation of CSOs in government procurement continues to pose a challenge for all government procuring entities. CSO participation is significant because it enhances transparency and accountability in governance. It also contributes to the country’s development through the delivery of effective services and efficient management of public funds. On its part, DepEd strengthened its advocacy for good governance through the issuance of DepEd Order No. 59, series of 2007, institutionalizing CSOs and private sector participation in the Department’s procurement process. However, the guidelines did not include a system on how to sustain the engagement of local CSOs or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It does not contain a monitoring and evaluation system for CSO engagement more so, a provision to make sure observers continuously update their knowledge on public procurement rules and regulations and latest GPPB issuances. Despite the intervention, low participation of CSOs in procurement activities was monitored by Ateneo School of Government’s G-Watch. Problems that were identified include communication, coordination, and lack of invitations to CSOs as reported in Regions III and VIII.
Solution and Impact
In order to address the problem, the project developed a CSO engagement program design which was implemented in three (3) pilot DepEd Division Offices, namely: Angeles City, San Fernando City, and Pampanga Province. The program was designed with three (3) components: 1) social awareness, understanding, and capacity building of CSOs; 2) organization of local CSOs and Division Offices engagement; and 3) monitoring and evaluation system of the engagement.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Division Offices and the local CSOs are also signed to build a relationship and engage in a constructive manner. A monitoring and evaluation system was eventually designed to keep track of the engagement between the procuring entity and the CSO.
The pilot Division Offices’ Head of Procuring Entity (HOPE), Bids and Awards Committees (BACs), and BAC Secretariats facilitated the recruitment of local CSOs, People Organizations (POs) and NGOs from the list provided by the Local Government Council of (LGCs) San Fernando City and Angeles City. Selected CSOs/POs/NGOs were invited to participate in a three-day briefing and orientation of CSO procurement observers/monitors.
During the briefing and orientation activity the concept of social accountability was introduced to CSO participants, and they were oriented on the principles of the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Procurement Observer’s Guide. The capacity building of CSOs motivated the participants to mobilize and engage with government. As a result, the Division Offices and local CSOs initiated the signing of MOU to establish their partnerships for a common objective. In order to sustain the engagement, a monitoring and evaluation system was designed for implementation of pilot Division Offices. A database of trained CSOs in Pampanga Province was also prepared to serve as reference in inviting CSO observers to monitor public procurement. The database is being maintained and updated by Division BAC Secretariat annually. DepEd Procurement Service continues to monitor and evaluate the performance of pilot Division Offices to determine if the engagement helped in attaining the objective of the project.