16 January 2012
In January 2012 the Aquino Administration endorsed its Good Governance and Anti -Corruption (GGAC) Cluster Plan: 2012-2016. The PFMP will assist the government in several public financial management aspects of the plan. Implementing the plan requires a multi-agency effort across 34 major initiatives categorised under the three themes of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.
The eight (8) initiatives under the transparency pillar are mainly about information access and disclosure, as well as expanding automated procurement and expenditure tracking systems. It largely depends on an effective use of information management technology to make information available and/or to monitor compliance of transparency initiatives.
The accountability category is broken down into anti-corruption and performance management initiatives. Those directly addressing corruption are initiatives to strengthen internal control and audit systems, as well as various measures related to detecting and processing corruption cases. The performance management category targets various government systems addressing government-wide performance and integration issues. Through improved systems, these initiatives aim to reduce leakages in the delivery of subsidies and programs, improve revenue collection and the overall efficiency of programs and expenditures. Notably, this category also includes the development of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS). The GIFMIS will harmonize financial management systems and provide reliable, automated and accurate information to support better fiscal planning, budgeting, and cash management. It will also facilitate timely financial reports and more effective enforcement of financial accountability rules and procedures.
The citizen engagement category includes nine (9) major initiatives related to developing formal mechanisms to allow citizens and civil society organization (CSOs) to take part in various aspects of the governance process. Several initiatives pertain to greater engagement in budget planning and monitoring either with national government agencies or locally through closer interaction with LGUs. It includes the development of websites as platforms for citizens to learn about the budget or file reports on its implementation and to allow citizens to report exemplary performance or to provide information relevant to graft and improper action.
The issue of enhancing systems to generate more accurate and timely information and providing public access to it is central to the plan and cuts across its three components. Shortly after the approval of the GGAC plan, the government submitted its version of the proposed Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Information. Falling under the GGAC Plan’s transparency pillar, the bill’s broad rationale is that by giving citizens greater access to official information, civil society engagement is facilitated and corruption can be curbed more successfully.
“We are not only pursuing freedom of information in and on itself, but we also seek to bolster the other initiatives under the GGAC Plan” said Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad. “For example, greater access to information on government projects and spending will allow civil society organizations to provide more relevant recommendations as they engage in our participatory planning, budgeting and audit processes.”
The DBM, serving as the Governance Cluster’s Secretariat, spearheaded the crafting of the GGAC plan. The plan is a major step in the right direction. The Cabinet appears determined in achieving its targets and has begun implementing several elements of the plan. Should the Judicial and Legislative branches of government undertake similar reforms, the potential synergy from a more holistic approach to improving governance and addressing corruption could have a profound impact on the country’s development.