THERE are 108 local government-led programs vying for this year’s Digital Governance Awards 2020 this month. I congratulate the current officers of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for striving to carry on with this merit system which is now in its 9th year.
In 2012, as president of the NICP, I led exploratory talks with then Undersecretary Austere Panadero of the DILG on how we can help ensure that local government units across the country leverage on the benefits of using information and communications technologies (ICT) for good governance. I remember we brainstormed casually inside a hotel room with other NICP officers while attending an ICT conference. Our choice was between two approaches – carrot or stick. Usec. Austere, also an Ilonggo, believed along with then DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo that the “carrot” approach would be more effective since NICP is a private organization. We believed that customers or clients of government, which are primarily its citizens should be the one gauging their respective performance and level of innovation. Hence, the Excellence in ICT for Good Governance or eGOV Awards was born that year.
Since 2012 up to the present, the call for excellence in governance using digital platforms and solutions continues. In 2017, the DICT took the cudgel of nurturing the merit system and everyone agree to rebrand it to Digital Cities Awards and eventually last year to the Digital Governance Awards (DGA). eGOV and now DGA is an annual search for best practices in local government units in utilizing ICT to effectively and efficiently deliver its public services directly to its constituents and to its business stakeholders.
The DGA shares the vision of establishing indices for local government units across the country in harnessing the potentials of ICT towards raising the bar in delivering public service. By drawing attention to the best practices in integrating ICT capabilities and solutions, the different sectors of society and government units are enabled in their roles as catalyst of change. It is hoped that with the DGA strategy, the country will see the proliferation of revolutionary ICT initiatives that will support clearer, wider and faster access to information in our local government.
The program has four primary objectives, namely, to highlight and encourage the effective and efficient utilization of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the delivery of services and performance of the duties and responsibilities by local government units (LGUs); to share and replicate innovative practices, and commend, collate and document LGUs in integrating ICT in their processes to serve as example and benchmarks to other LGUs; to improve the business development, social services and the general ecosystem of the LGUs and motivate the private and business sector to actively participate and/or invest in the growth of the LGUs and to promote citizen’s responsibility and participation as well as accountability, efficiency and transparency in governance responsibility and encourage innovation.
In 2012, we started with two categories, namely, Best in Customer Empowerment (G2C) Awards, which recognizes the effect of an LGU’s practices using ICT solutions in its dealings with the public. This includes ICT solutions towards providing improved, timely, and relevant delivery of public services directly to the constituent; Best in Business Empowerment (G2B) Award, which recognizes the effect of an LGU’s practices in integrating ICT solutions, and the commitment of its administration, in the LGU’s responsiveness to the needs of business enterprises, thereby creating business opportunities.
After three years, we added P2G or Digital Payments to cite initiatives in using digital payment gateways in the LGU level and D2G or Data-Driven Governance to recognize efforts of LGUs to ensure data privacy in their systems. Another new category was the Best in Inter-Operability (G2G) Award which recognizes the effect of an LGU’s initiative to connect data and systems with other government offices, both national and local, for the convenience of their constituents and to improve its public service delivery.
For 2020, instead of P2G and D2G, two more new categories were added. Government Internal Operations (G2I) Award recognizes the efforts of an LGU in developing or improving its internal systems and adhering to various recognized standards, to be able to provide better service to its internal customers. The Best in Covid19 Pandemic Response (G2P) which is a special category that recognizes the LGUs who were extremely adaptable to the unusual circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic in the timely delivery of their services with the use of ICT solutions. It rewards quick thinking, innovation, and resourcefulness.
Since 2012 there are four criteria, namely innovative management (demonstrates the degree to which the entry explored, applied and managed the elements and strategies that brought about the success of the entry); impact (demonstrates the major results (output, outcome, impact), their effects, and benefits to the recipients of the service such as the public, employees, or business); extent of ICT adoption (to include interoperability and data security); and replication potential and sustainability (demonstrates the model qualities of the practice with the possibility and applicability of replicating it in other localities and shows the level of sustainability or that the LGU can continue the project by addressing major disruptions).