G-Watch (Government Watch)

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G-Watch (Government Watch)

Philippines
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

G-Watch provides tools and methods for ordinary citizens' participation in the monitoring of government service delivery programs. These were designed to answer the question that any ordinary citizen would want to ask: Is the government able to deliver what it promised to deliver? Thus, they basically revolve around the comparison of input and output, plan and accomplishment or expectation and actual result. The comparison takes into account variables, such as time (was the project finished on schedule?), cost (did the project exceed the budget?), quantity (did the beneficiaries receive what was allocated for them?), quality (were the goods produced in accordance with the agreed specifications?) and procedures (were documentation requirements properly accomplished?).

G-Watch contributes to ending corruption by integrating such participatory mechanism in actual government policies and programs, which opens up government transactions to direct scrutiny by the citizens. This is expected to guide and constrain the administrators and other players to appropriate actions and decisions.

G-Watch is primarily addressing corruption in public expenditure, especially in the procurement and delivery of goods and services for various sectors. It has developed and tested tools to monitor textbook delivery, medicines procurement, school building construction, and public works projects.

The activities of G-Watch include establishing partnership with government agencies for the conduct of the monitoring, direct transfer of the tools and methods to citizen groups and communities, and coordination of civil society monitoring initiatives that had been activated. These stakeholders, i.e. government agencies, citizen groups and communities, are likewise considered the beneficiaries of the G-Watch initiatives.

About You
Location
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Your idea
Focus of activity

Community Involvement

Year the initative began (yyyy)

2000

Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram,
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Lack of Accountability & Transparency

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Create Collaborative Systems

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:
Innovation
Description of initiative

G-Watch provides tools and methods for ordinary citizens' participation in the monitoring of government service delivery programs. These were designed to answer the question that any ordinary citizen would want to ask: Is the government able to deliver what it promised to deliver? Thus, they basically revolve around the comparison of input and output, plan and accomplishment or expectation and actual result. The comparison takes into account variables, such as time (was the project finished on schedule?), cost (did the project exceed the budget?), quantity (did the beneficiaries receive what was allocated for them?), quality (were the goods produced in accordance with the agreed specifications?) and procedures (were documentation requirements properly accomplished?).

G-Watch contributes to ending corruption by integrating such participatory mechanism in actual government policies and programs, which opens up government transactions to direct scrutiny by the citizens. This is expected to guide and constrain the administrators and other players to appropriate actions and decisions.

G-Watch is primarily addressing corruption in public expenditure, especially in the procurement and delivery of goods and services for various sectors. It has developed and tested tools to monitor textbook delivery, medicines procurement, school building construction, and public works projects.

The activities of G-Watch include establishing partnership with government agencies for the conduct of the monitoring, direct transfer of the tools and methods to citizen groups and communities, and coordination of civil society monitoring initiatives that had been activated. These stakeholders, i.e. government agencies, citizen groups and communities, are likewise considered the beneficiaries of the G-Watch initiatives.

Innovation

While the usual anti-corruption initiatives would consist of expose, shame campaign against erring officials, and corruption perception survey, G-Watch chose a proactive preventive approach. It considers the correct delivery of services to the intended beneficiaries as the most important indicator that corruption has been contained. For developing countries like the Philippines, such link between anti-corruption work and development is crucial.

Now, the G-Watch approach is unique because it could bring about concrete results respected by both the government agencies being monitored and the citizen monitors themselves. It is anchored on the trust and confidence of both sectors that things could be accomplished. By being collaborative and inclusive, it puts anti-corruption work in the productive and optimistic mode. On the part of the government, it removes the notion that civil society is simply out to highlight social problems and make demands or go into fault-finding and head-hunting over controversies; and replaces it with the notion that citizens can share the responsibility of making program implementation more effective. On the part of the citizens, it opens up another avenue for civic engagement where the government's vulnerability serves as opportunity for citizens to become part of the solution that will bring the institutions back to their normal functioning.

Delivery Model

With respect to government agencies, G-Watch always enters into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to conduct the monitoring. The MOA ensures the government's cooperation, especially in terms of the citizens' access to all vital documents and information. It likewise ensures that the government officials will receive and act on the monitoring recommendations.

With respect to citizen groups and communities, G-Watch provides guide for monitoring and relevant information, briefing-orientations and planning-workshops to organize the monitoring initiative, and evaluation sessions after the conduct of the monitoring to generate learnings from the exercise.

Key Operational Partnerships

G-Watch has established partnership with the following government agencies: Department of Education (DepED), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Government Procurement Policy Board, and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

Among its major civil society partners in the monitoring include the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, National Citizens' Movement for Free Election, Parents-Teachers-Community Associations, Transparency and Accountability Network, and Coalition Against Corruption.

Impact
Financial Model

All G-Watch beneficiaries, whether from the government or non-government, get all the services for free.

What percentage, if any, of the total operating costs does earned income (from products, services, or other fees) represent?

0%

How is the initiative financed? Is it financially self-sustainable or profitable? How much do beneficiaries contribute?

G-Watch initiatives are financed mainly through grants from donors, such as the United Nations Development Program, Partnership for Transparency Fund, and the United States Agency for International Development. The Ateneo de Manila University provides for other operational needs, such as office, equipment and administrative services.

Currently, it is not financially sustainable nor profitable. G-Watch does not ask monetary contribution or assistance from government agencies it monitors to avoid issues of conflict of interest and the risk of co-optation. Citizen groups and communities are not asked monetary contributions either because the time and resources they volunteered for the monitoring are already their vital contributions.

Effectiveness

The G-Watch monitoring reports have generated the following concrete responses from the government agencies: (1) DOH started posting medicines prices in its website as a response to reported high price discrepancies across regional offices and hospitals; (2) DPWH supported the pilot implementation of "Bayanihang Eskwela: The Citizens' Monitoring of DPWH-Implemented School Building Projects" in 2005; and (3) DepED launched "Textbook Count: National Textbook Delivery Program" in 2003 and runs it for four straight years now.

The G-Watch influence was felt most strongly in DepED's Textbook Count, a joint effort with various citizen groups to monitor the bidding, production and nationwide delivery of textbooks. Parents, students, Scouts, church parishioners and village leaders served as volunteer monitors for Textbook Count. This has benefited some 20 million public school students who received 64 million textbooks amounting to $52M from 2003 to 2006.

Under the Textbook Count, which used the International Competitive Bidding, the prices of textbooks were also reduced by almost 50%, the procurement process (bidding to delivery) was shortened from 24 to 12 months, and ghost deliveries had been eliminated.

The Textbook Count model was also replicated in other items, such as medicines, school buildings, and pork barrel-funded projects.

Which element of the program proved itself most effective?

The simplicity of the method proved to be the most effective aspect of the program. It allowed more citizens to understand and use it easily. In the Textbook Count, for instance, where even young Scouts can help, it has made the mobilization of volunteers in many schools possible. DepED has used this opportunity as leverage to pressure the textbook forwarders to agree to the prescribed delivery schedules. The forwarders could not just delay their deliveries since the volunteers would wait for the arrival of the books on the prescribed dates; they became more disciplined and responsive.

The collaborative approach was even more helpful because it facilitated the flow of much needed information that should be transmitted to the volunteer monitors. It enhanced the credibility of the agency because its internal reports could be validated by third-party monitoring reports. Because of the cordial relations that were built, the Textbook Count has been running for four straight years now in DepED. Other agencies, like the DPWH, has also been motivated to undertake a similar effort

Number of clients in the last year?

In 2006, in terms of funding support, G-Watch had four major clients, namely (1) Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), (2) The Asia Foundation (TAF), (3) Rule of Law Effectiveness (ROLE) Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and (4) United Nations Development Programme.

In terms of citizen groups that can be tapped for monitoring work, G-Watch has linkage with 34 civil society organizations and some 150 local network groups (through their national offices). For Textbook Count 4, G-Watch sent materials to 2,346 school-based PTCAs and Scouting units. For another newly introduced component of the Textbook Count, which is called Textbook Walk, 310 participants received briefing-orientations for its pilot-testing. For the Bayanihang Eskwela, there were 30 Community Monitoring Teams with 336 enlisted volunteers.

What is the potential demand?

The potential demand for the GWatch-type of initiative is high. So far, G-Watch has focused on national government agencies with big budget for social services. From the Department of Education alone, there were already requests for G-Watch assistance to monitor the procurement and delivery of school furniture (desks and chairs), noodles and milk, and computers.

The local government units (LGUs) at various levels-- provincial, city or municipal, and village level-- also present greater demand. Various academic institutions have already expressed interest in setting up their own G-Watch initiative to check the procurements of their respective LGUs.

Moreover, various international groups are already using G-Watch and the Textboook Count as case models for other countries to follow.

Scaling up Strategy

The G-Watch priorities for the next three years are (1) to sustain and institutionalize what had been successfully started, e.g. Textbook Count and Bayanihang Eskwela, (2) to systematically document the G-Watch experience and manualize its operations, and (3) to localize the G-Watch approach, i.e. establish franchises of the G-Watch model in at least 3 other universities (one in each of the major island groups of the Philippines).

The first ensures that the G-Watch's successful initiatives continue to flourish and remain good examples for other government agencies. The second is preparatory to the third or the localization plan, which is the way to efficiently multiply the use of the G-Watch approach. The G-Watch experience had proven that being housed in an academic institution enhances the credibility of the monitoring report and also increases the chances of getting the cooperation of the government agencies. That is the reason for offering the franchise to other universities.

Stage of the initiative

1

Expansion plan

G-Watch should get additional funding and staffing. It should have sub-units that will be responsible for (1) existing monitoring efforts, (2) documentation and manualization of operations, and (3) localization planning.

The expansion plan for G-Watch could capitalize on its notable accomplishments and existing networks of citizen groups and volunteers. Thus, the plan can be jumpstarted immediately once the resources are available.

Origin of the Initiative

G-Watch was formed in reaction to so many reports of corruption and inefficiency in the government of ousted President Joseph Estrada. To complement perception surveys, fresh college graduates were deployed as G-Watch monitors to visit project sites and collect documents to be used to assess actual government performance in service delivery. I was one of the first batch of monitors.

For the Textbook Count, G-Watch was fortunate to have DepED Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz as guest in the presentation of monitoring report on textbook delivery program. He challenged G-Watch and the civil society to mobilize volunteers nationwide to check 37 million textbooks in some 5,000 delivery points. From then on, he became the G-Watch champion in DepED until he was removed from office because he refused to be used as conduit of illegal funds from the Office of the President.

Sustainability
Main Obstacles to Scaling Up

1. Financial instability
2. Local socio-political realities (personalistic character of local politics, primacy of kinship, prevalence of patron-client relations, etc.) that may make monitoring difficult or its results less credible.

Main Financial Challenges

The financial challenges of G-Watch consist in its being dependent on donor funding, which often unpredictably changes, and the extra-caution it must exercise in identifying fund sources as it might negatively affect the credibility of the initiative.

To scale up operations, G-Watch will need US$150,000 every year. It would help if private business groups can help finance the operations. Monitoring work, however, are backward-looking expense, which produces no tangible outputs. It only provides confidence that money spent in producing outputs is not wasted; it's only a safety net like insurance. Thus, it requires more effort to convince business groups to invest in it.

Main Partnership Challenges

The G-Watch partnership with the agencies and citizen groups has to be renewed every year. It is therefore unstable and unpredictable.

Leadership in boh government and civil society organizations also tend to change and sometimes transition is not so smooth that previous partnerships are sometimes not continued.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate?

Dr. Antonio La Vina, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, home institution of G-Watch, referred the Changemaker competition to me.

Our main incentive for joining the competition is the prestige we will get if we win, which we can use to leverage for more funding support.