COA project wins London’s Bright Spots award

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Citizen’s Participatory Audit (CPA), Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan pet project which allows ordinary Filipinos to participate in the audit of public funds, was declared winner of the Bright Spots competition at the closing plenary of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit in London Friday afternoon.

The CPA project launched in November last year explores ways in which citizens can be directly engaged in the audit process for government projects and contribute to ensuring greater efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources.

To date, four pilot audits with ordinary Filipinos participating in it are in progress. These are the CAMANAVA flood control project of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Education’s public-private partnership for school building Phase 1, Quezon City’s solid waste management program, and Marikina City’s operation of barangay health centers.

The Bright Spots prize, given for the first time at this year’s OGP summit,  recognizes the most inspiring examples of how open and accountable government is changing people’s lives.

The CPA received the highest number of votes from the over 1,000 summit participants and the general public, beating six other bright ideas from Chile, Estonia, Georgia, Indonesia, Montenegro and Romania.

The COA delegation was headed by COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, Director Aida Ayaso Talavera, and Vivien Suerte-Cortez, CPA project manager.

The Bright Spots award aims to show how governments in OGP countries are working with citizens to sharpen governance, harness new technologies to increase public participation, and improve government responsiveness.

The OGP summit in London held on Oct. 31- Nov. 1 is the third since OGP was launched in September 2011 in  New York. The Philippines, represented by President Aquino, was invited as one of eight countries to serve in the OGP Steering Committee.

The summit provided an opportunity for all member-states, now numbering 60, to showcase their progress on open government and transparency and make ambitious new commitments. It also gave participants the opportunity to learn from one another and to see what works and doesn’t work around the world.

COA’s Tan led the launching of the CPA project in November 2012 as a two-year program that is a joint initiative of the COA and non-profit intermediary group Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) with fund support from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

“As the state’s supreme audit institution, we have a duty to the public… But we also recognize that citizens are a key stakeholder in what the government does, and in what COA does,” she said.

“To increase awareness that a vigilant and involved citizenry promotes greater accountability, special audit teams with both COA auditors and average citizens will conduct value-for-money or performance audits of selected government programs,” she added.

Tan said citizen audit participants are chosen through the signing of terms of engagements with citizen groups that are committed to upholding transparency in the public audit process and a memorandum of agreement with civil society and government agency partners.

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