IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS: Government Watch
YEARS: 2008 – 2009
GRANT AMOUNT: $27,500
G-Watch’s five years of successful engagement with the Department of Education provide a model for an enduring public-private partnership in governance. The success may be attributed to a number of factors, such as the presence of a trusted official within the agency who supported and championed the partnership, formulation of a concrete and straightforward program of participation, and continued aspiration to better understand and improve both sectors’ unique role in governance.
In those five years, G-Watch consistently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with DepED and slowly established its credibility as a civil society watchdog. It looked mainly into the procurement of textbooks, a transaction that would always draw the department into anomalies and controversies. Using a simple tool that compares plan with actual accomplishments, G-Watch started tracking textbooks in 32 school districts and diligently reported the results to the top executives. Two years after, in an unexpected turn of events, a reformist within the agency took notice of the G-Watch mechanism for citizens’ participation and posed a challenge to the civil society sector to monitor textbook deliveries in approximately 5,500 high schools and districts nationwide.
The bidding process is the most fertile ground in initiating the expanded G-Watch participation as it is explicitly provided for in the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA) as one of its safety measures against irregularities. Now, there is a high demand for civil society observers in DepED because of its several multi-million procurement packages and given its good experience in the textbooks procurement monitoring. The supply, however, has generally been very low because of the lack of programmatic approach to facilitate the civil society entry into the process. As a result, the GPRA’s envisioned safety measure (to be provided by third-party observers) is not fully utilized and the entire procurement system suffers setbacks.
The general objective of the project is to protect, sustain and expand the gains of previous programs, specifically the Textbook Count. Protection basically refers preventing the return to the old of system, which lacks transparency and accountability; sustainability, to sustaining the momentum of reforms that had been put in place; and expansion, to expanding from textbooks to many other types of procurements.