Gawad Dr. Manuel G. Roxas or GMR (Flavor of the Month)
A pat on the back for a job well done is a good morale booster and an incentive to continue excelling. Bulacan’s provincial government must have had this in mind when it launched its awards program for innovations in public services provision.
Initially, the program was dubbed Flavor of the Month awards. It has since been renamed as the Gawad Dr. Manuel G. Roxas or GMR. It is an award recognizing the outstanding achievement in public services of offices and departments of the Provincial Government of Bulacan.
The award also aims to encourage innovations for more effective governance and delivery of public services. It also serves as a vehicle to inform and encourage the public, the private sector and civil society to participate and support programs and projects of the provincial government throughout the province. Lastly it is supposed to enhance collaboration and coordination among the different agencies or offices of the province.
In essence, the GMR is an interdepartment or cluster competition of innovative programs. An aspiring competitor, i.e. a department or cluster of departments, presents their Action Plan to the GMR Committee which comments on the plan. If revisions are needed, the plan is revised and re-submitted prior to implementation. The program or project entry is then implemented in a period of one month. Preparatory activities prior to implementation are allowed. The GMR Committee members monitor the activities. They also conduct exit interviews with the beneficiaries to determine the citizen’s feedback. The interview results are incorporated into the final report. The program accomplishments, including supporting documents, videos and pictures, are then presented to the GMR Committee for evaluation.
The project entries are required to have community participation and must be aligned with the mandate of the office. It must also adhere to the thrusts of the province and address the current critical needs of target beneficiaries. In addition, the project entries must have communication plans with corresponding budgets.
Partnerships, collaboration and coordination with other provincial government offices, municipal or city LGUs, NGAs, NGOs, private groups and civil society are encouraged. Materials and financial support from partners are mobilized. Sustainability plans also became part of the evaluation criteria in 2008.
What is noteworthy is that almost half (49.62%) of the total budget for the GMR were derived from external sources rather than from the pockets of the provincial government.
There were an average of 9 entries per year from 2005 to 2007, and the number increased to 11 in 2008. From the 38 project entries since the project’s inception in 2005, a total of 12 were winners and have become regular programs of the provincial government.
One of the projects (i.e., the Finance Cluster’s Buwis Balikatan sa Barangay) was instrumental in propelling Bulacan to become the top income earning province in the country in fiscal year 2007. The same project made Bulacan one of the 2008 National PAG-ASAAwardees of the Civil Service Commission. Meanwhile, the Youth Initiated Programs for Employment and Entrepreneurship was the reason why Bulacan obtained major awards in the regional Search for Best PESO (Public Employment Service Office) in 2007.
The awards program has succeeded in eliciting collaboration and coordination among different agencies and offices of the province. In implementing the various programs in 2008, the provincial government joined forces with 297 partners from barangay, municipal and city LGUs, as well as national government agencies, non-government organizations and civic organizations.
The most significant achievement of the GMR is the reinforcement of people, community and LGU participation in the planning, implementation and monitoring of projects. This was made possible in the creative packaging of the services and programs of the various departments. It has also compelled the various departments to carefully plan the targets, activities, budgets and communication systems of their programs. Through the awards program, the departments have also learned to gather feedback and become more attuned to the needs of their target beneficiaries.
In addition, the programs and projects became more aligned with the targets. This has encouraged the various departments of the Provincial Government to be more result driven and pro-active. This has also expedited the implementation of their projects. The key to GMR’s sustainability is its legal mandate. It was introduced into the Administrative Code of Bulacan which codified all the recognized programs of the provincial government. The awards program also has the unprecedented support of the governors from the previous and current administrations.
Replicating the GMR should not be too difficult as it merely requires the issuance of an executive order and the active participation of the different departments and agencies in the LGU. The budget for the program can be derived from the Office of the Provincial Administrator and from the budget of the participating departments. Bulacan’s GMR Committee freely shares its Manual of Operation to those interested in the mechanics, policies and criteria for the awards. The members of the GMR Committee were recruited from the academe, senior citizens, local experts and technical consultants.
The GMR Committee is quite confident that the innovations started by different departments of the Provincial Government will be sustained through rewards recognizing exemplary achievements. The innovative programs are now being replicated by various LGUs. Even the Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations has expressed interest in replicating the Buwis Balikatan sa Barangay, one of the programs recognized by the GMR.