Expenditure Monitoring in the Philippines: A Rapid Scan of the Experience (Draft)

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The attempt of civil society to venture into expenditure monitoring is a huge challenge. It is a new terrain that involves technicalities and requires access to critical processes and documents of the government.

While the system for social accountability has already been adopted as a regular program in some agencies like in the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), etc., sustaining the participation of civil society in these programs continues to be a challenge. Involving the community is one specific response to sustainability, which relies on empowerment to be self-perpetuating, i.e., that citizens would naturally use the knowledge and skills they learned to get good results, in this case, quality and responsive services from the government.

However, developing this culture would entail extensive and long-term re-orientation and capacity-building, as well as perhaps addressing also their immediate concerns and priorities that are economic in nature. To reach the grassroots, national enablers like national civil society organizations (CSOs) and its counterparts in the national government will have to replicate themselves and their kind of engagement in sub-national levels. Mobilizing support and resources for this next strategic direction of the CSO work in expenditure monitoring is the next order of battle. While gargantuan and overwhelming, this direction could only mean something positive: the work has gone pass demonstration and pilots to transforming practice and institutions that changes the politics of governance in the country as we know it.

Government Watch (G-Watch) is a social accountability program of the Ateneo School of Government—the graduate school of leadership and public service of Ateneo de Manila University that facilitates the constructive engagement of civil society with government in performance monitoring. It has specialized on expenditure monitoring of the education sector in the past 10 years since its foundation in 2000. Expenditure covers procurement to actual delivery of services. This part of governance was largely off-limits to civil society in the past and has been proven to be greatly prone to large-scale and systematic corruption.