Bukidnon State University
Best Practice Focus Area/s
Leadership, Citizens / Customers, Human Resource
26-28 February and 4 March 2019
This is a GBPR entry
Participatory Governance Assessment (PGA) assesses good governance practices in community groups. A group of selected participants evaluates the extent to which a community group’s decision-making and management practices comply with the four pillars of good governance: transparency, participation, accountability, and predictability.
PGA was introduced to Bukidnon State University through the research engagement of Dr. Joy M. Mirasol with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH under the Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (COSERAM) and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in applying and refining the Governance Assessment for Protected Areas (GAPA) methodology for assessing governance strengths and challenges of Protected Areas/ Conserved Areas (PAs/CAs). This research established PGA as an effective tool in managing protected areas, especially in identifying governance issues and challenges.
Background and Problem
The conduct of PGA at Bukidnon State University was primarily motivated by the university’s desire for continual improvement and the highest satisfaction of its stakeholders. While all organizations need to assess their performance in terms of their deliverables, the assessment process may sometimes lead to conflict, especially in giving feedback on other units’ performance or even the top management’s decisions. It would be difficult to give honest feedback on the performance of others and even accept feedback for one’s performance if the platform for assessment is not conducive to open and objective discussion.
Since the assessment method’s driving principle is the stakeholders’ participation in the direction and operation of the organization’s structure, the PGA provided a solution to this dilemma through a reflective assessment. Here, unlike other assessment methods such as answering evaluation forms, evaluation of external experts, etc., the stakeholders are allowed to assess themselves and the university vis-à-vis a platform for guided open discussion. PGA’s open-ended question approach reduces the risk of bias caused by pre-selecting issues or asking leading questions. Validation of results with the stakeholders provided a mechanism for accountability, developing a proactive action plan to address challenges.
The conduct of PGA in Bukidnon State University purported to determine the governance strengths and challenges of the university as well as the ideas for action. In doing so, the assessment results will hopefully improve the governance and establish a baseline for monitoring governance changes in the university over time. Results will also be relevant data for management review. For PGA to be effective, facilitators should be experienced, with good facilitation skills, and be perceived as neutral and unbiased. PGA documenters should also be able to competently capture rapid information in the PGA process, especially during the focus group discussion. It was good that the BukSU-IEG were trained facilitators and documentation in PGA. Their expertise resulted from the university’s partnership with the Mindanao PAMB Network, the GIZ-COSERAM, and IIED.
Solution and Impact
Assessing governance arrangements of an organization can be done as (a) a health check to determine the strengths and challenges of governance arrangements and identify issues that need attention, (b) as a diagnostic to understand the underlying cause of existing challenges and identify actions that could improve the situation, and (c) a form of monitoring to establish a baseline against which to measure governance over time. It seeks to assess the organization in seven key aspects of governance: (1) Effective participation of relevant actors in decision making, (2) Recognition and respect for the rights of all relevant actors, (3) Fair and effective processes for dispute resolution, (4) Transparency supported by timely access to relevant information (5) Effective coordination of policies and plans with those of other sectors and levels (6) Achieving conservation and other objectives efficiently and as planned and (7) Effective coordination and collaboration between different actors, sectors, and levels. Data gathering was done via focus group discussions (FGD) and key informant interviews (KIIs) with groups carefully selected to include various perspectives from within the organization.
The KII and FGD teams followed a reporting template that included four columns:
- PGA Principle
- What went well
- What’s not working well
- Ideas for action
Validation was also done to complement the results with additional information, and gaps in understanding were also identified. The ideas for action were presented to key officials and stakeholders for affirmation.
The impact of the PGA is evidenced by (1) the appreciation of stakeholders of the process, which is devoid of tension, a platform for everyone to be heard regardless of rank/position, and evidenced-based information to improve university policies; and (2) improved capacity of internal and external stakeholders.
DENR X awarded Bukidnon State University as “Best Institutional Partner” in the region for the academe category in Northern Mindanao last July 23, 2019. This award was given in recognition of Bukidnon State University’s expertise in the PGA process. The award was given to the university for its significant contribution to enhancing the knowledge of Local Government Unit (LGU) chief executives and environmental partners towards protecting Nature and Management of Natural Resources. They were also recognized as a dedicated and significant partner in the capacity and organization development of the Mindanao Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Network in partnership with the GIZ-COSERAM Project leading to improved Protected Area (PA) Management, sustained biodiversity conservation, and increased interaction among PA key stakeholders in Mindanao.