PARR to develop post-Yolanda recovery activities & funding tracking system

From the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Office

Transparency is part of the new normal

There has been a demand for transparency in the funds for Yolanda relief and recovery. People want to know how the government is spending taxpayers’ money. Individual, group or corporate sponsors, and donors also want to know where their money is going.

Though Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) is not handling one peso of this money, PARR’s role is, in part, to help put in place mechanisms to allow the public to track the money that they are contributing to post-Yolanda recovery.

PARR is collaborating with concerned government agencies to keep tab of financial resources for Yolanda-affected population. Information on this will be centralized in PARR. This will be helpful not only in providing access to the public but also holding implementing agencies, in and outside government, accountable to demonstrate results on the ground.

From February 10 to 13, the PARR met with experts from the United Nations-Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Indonesia to discuss the database used to track all the financial and physical progress of the Aceh and Nias recovery, and to gather recommendations for developing a similar tracking system for post-Yolanda rehabilitation.

Representatives from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) also participated in the meetings.

PARR’s Secretary Panfilo M. Lacson said, “We need to have a funding database and progress tracking system for post-disaster recovery. This should have been established a long time ago considering the many disasters that come our way each year.”

The tracking system being developed by PARR’s Track Recovery System will initially accommodate data relating to efforts on post-Yolanda rehabilitation.  However, it is also envisioned that the system may subsequently be used for recovery programs of future calamities.

The experience of Aceh and Nias in using the database proved the system’s potential to guide decision-making and to promote transparency and accountability.

Any database system adopted would require full commitment and proper management through regular updating and constant validation of data.

Operational issues on adopting the tracking system to the Philippines’ peculiar circumstances were addressed during the meetings.

It was emphasized that PARR will not, as much as possible, burden the implementing agencies with additional tasks of reporting.

PARR will maximize the use of existing repositories of information like the database of DBM or that of NEDA.

Nonetheless, the sources of data will remain accountable in ensuring the quality of the data.

The Track Recovery System will be different from the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) currently used by the Government.

In terms of coverage and period, the Track Recovery System will include the financial and physical status update of programs and projects during the recovery phase while FAiTH only reports the financial data on pledges on the level of emergency response.

The Track Recovery System will also include projects of all implementing entities such as the national government, local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

The Track Recovery System can also be best utilized by project implementers. PARR believes that access to the most comprehensive and accurate details of progress reports on post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts should not only reach the public, but also the implementing entities.  Implementing entities could use the data as reference for their monitoring, mapping and reporting needs.

PARR intends to launch the Track Recovery System by May 2014.

Secretary Lacson said, “Such a system is vital not only in the case of Yolanda but also in future similar disaster recovery programs. We are targeting that by May 2014, the public will be able to visit the PARR website and obtain information on the funding that goes to their municipality or city and how this funding is translated into results for the people. Donors may also look at how the organizations that they have selected to fund are delivering results on the ground.”

The Secretary added “those organizations that have received funding should make sure that their efforts are rightly recorded in the database and accounted for as part of their commitment to their donors. Those that are not used to meeting transparency requirements will need to rethink their processes. As far as PARR is concerned, transparency is part of the new normal.”