The OnePercentLegacy is a proposed undertaking for the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel, www.namfrel.com.ph) to support its work in monitoring the procurement processes by various government agencies. It is akin to a social audit or social accountability, according to Philippine Budget Management department secretary, Florencio Abad.
The value proposition of the OnePercentLegacy is citizens can effectively help track and report progress of public projects at less than one percent of the project cost. This will be done with the collaboration of the funding or contracting agencies and with trained volunteers. The data capture system will use an inclusive (built-for-participation) technology-enabled data portal, and the information collected will be integrated with that of the contracting agency’s own monitoring and evaluation system.
Trained volunteers of Namfrel will monitor and report project progress using tools like the mobile phones and cameras. They will also use specific checklists and on-line tools customized to the project being monitored. Anyone close to the project sites, like in places where a school building or a bridge is being built, could send spot reports using SMS, videos, photographs, or in oral or spoken form. These pieces of information will serve as third-party inputs to the overall project monitoring process.
The one percent figure taken from the cost of a public project is both symbolic and actual. The nominal cost is positioned to be attractive and acceptable to the contracting and funding agencies, like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank. It is symbolic because over time, as more and more individuals participate in the process, each contribution becomes infinitesimally small as the total contribution by citizens becomes infinitely large. The equivalent of one-percent-of-project-cost, as the cost of this social audit, will be actual and will set the benchmark for efficiency. It may not be breached regardless of the kind of project.
Information gathered from the OnePercentLegacy project will hopefully provide bilateral and multi-lateral public project fund (loan) providers a rationale to allocate funds for social audit by citizens. This small investment to engage citizens will be used to help protect the larger investments they made the fund providers made on the public projects.
A pilot-test of the key deliverables and value-added will be carried out in the next few months. The first applications will be in Namfrel's current monitoring programs. Once the concept is proven feasible and sufficient operational knowledge has been accumulated, the OnePercentLegacy would be propagated in other parts of the world. This would be done by the funding agencies, by Namfrel or by third-party proponents.
Background on Namfrel
Namfrel is a non-partisan volunteer domestic election observation group founded in 1983 in the Philippines. It was first of it's kind in the world. It has carried out transparency and accountability-promotion projects in the past. In 1987 in observed the bidding and project execution of small infrastructure projects by the department of Public Works and Highways in a program to create one million jobs nationwide. In 2003, the department of Education engaged Namfrel to monitor the delivery of textbooks to public high schools and elementary schools.
Since then Namfrel continues be observe the procurement processes of the department of Education and the department of Health. The department of Public Works and Highways and the department of Interior and Local Government have recently invited Namfrel to participate in the procurement processes and track the implementation of their projects.
Seeking your inputs
I would like to hear your thoughts on how the OnePercentLegacy could be improved and delivered well. Do write in the comment section or send an email to OnePercentLegacy@gmail.com. Better yet send in a video of you giving your comments. Thank you very much.
(The author is a volunteer of Namfrel since 1986. He served as executive director from 1997 to 2003. He has been a member of the national council from 2009 up to the present. He has observed elections in many countries since 1994 and has worked with the National Democratic Institute (ndi.org) in Afghanistan, Timor Leste and Bangladesh. This project is dedicated to the volunteers of Namfrel who have offer time, talent and treasure to protect the integrity of Philippine elections. For the nine Namfrel volunteers who offered the ultimate sacrifice to country, this project of vigilance and citizen oversight is offered so that their deaths would not been in vain.) (Text revised on 2011 Feb 16)