Developing staff capacities in order to sustain momentum on Philippines e-Governance project

Drafting the eRPTS work plan

Drafting the eRPTS work plan

This past week I spent time with the eRPTS (electronic Real Property Taxation System) project team in San Antonio, Zambales province, Philippines. As regular readers of this blog will know, for the last month I’ve been in the Philippines as a Volunteer Advisor to the eGov4MD project (of which eRPTS is a sub-project), with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO). The eGov4MD project is an international collaborative, orchestrated by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), bringing together various Filipino organizations, municipalities, and foreign not-for-profits (e.g., CESO).

San Antonio�s eRPTS project is in the early stages. Work plans are coming together. There is momentum building. To sustain that momentum will require further developing staff Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) capacities. Here’s a few observations the project team and I put together, around building those capacities.

Workplace context

Developing staff capacities will require the Municipality to address:

  • Finances. The Municipality has no set, annual, budget for ICT (LMP target recommendation for ICT budget allotment is 1% of total Municipal budget). Funding capital projects, including staff training, takes ingenuity.
  • Human resources model. Financial constraints also contribute to a Municipal staffing model that relies extensively on casual employees. Earning a fraction of the salary (compared to permanent employees), these employees are nevertheless counted on as valued project team members.
  • Politics. Doing business here requires understanding, and navigating, the organizational and political structures in-place. Authority may reside in different places and degrees (to what one is accustomed to).
  • Infrastructure. The ratio of people to computers is 3:1 (or more) in the workplace, the Internet is 250kbps bandwidth or less (=slow), and most people do not have computers at home.

Below, San Antonio’s Municipal Treasurer (Luzviminda Asio), Planning & Development Officer (Melchor Ventura), and Assessor (Noel Manzano) review the Municipality’s information systems strategic plan, including staffing requirements…

Staff development

In addition to on-the-job training (e.g., eRPTS project), the San Antonio project team identified a number of methods for updating ICT workplace skills, only a few of which are currently being deployed. Potential approaches for developing staff ICT skills (both technical and non-technical skills) include:

  • National Government Agency-sponsored training, online or classroom; e.g., training provided by the National Computing Centre (of Philippines)
  • Municipality-sponsored training, online or classroom
  • NGO-sponsored training, online or classroom; e.g., training provided by LMP
  • Community-based Computing Learning Centre
  • Web-based communities of practice group; e.g., eGov4MD working group
  • Bringing in staff expert(s) from other Municipality(s); e.g., for mentoring / knowledge transfer
  • Visits to peers, and similar implementations, in adjacent municipalities
  • Taking courses in local community college
  • Visits from foreign Volunteer Advisors; e.g., CESO
  • Self-study; e.g., books, software, computer-based training (if computer available)

Below, San Antonio eRPTS project team members discuss training needs…

All things considered

Most people welcome the opportunity to develop and apply new skills. Creating the opportunities is the challenge. San Antonio is finding practical (e.g., low or no-cost) learning opportunities through their participation in collaborative projects such as eRPTS. Future participation in all eGov4MD activities, combined with targeted training for ICT staff will help San Antonio build up their staff skills and capacities going forward.

And thank you…

To Al Padua, for driving me around during my stay in San Antonio last week. As a driver for the Municipality, Al also drives the Municipal ambulance and fire truck. Here’s a picture of him with his wife and two delightful children. I took the picture when he brought me around to his house one day after work, to meet with his family and some relatives.


Question for the reader

What other no-cost or low-cost approach for building staff ICT skills do you see as viable for a Municipality such as San Antonio?

If you found this post interesting, I would appreciate if you left a comment or subscribed to my blog. Your feedback helps me make this blog more interesting and relevant for you.  Thanks, Ben.


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