Customs, PhilGEPS cited for ‘open, transparent’ online access to data

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has commended the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) for their efforts to enhance public access to their data via the Internet.

open data

“These two agencies have shown exemplary performance in participating in our open data initiatives. Not only have they published their valuable datasets, they have also encouraged the public to check the available data in order to make themselves more accountable,” DBM secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said.

Through its dashboard on www.data.gov.ph — the national data portal which consolidates the datasets of government agencies — PhilGEPS has consistently been publishing data on Procurement Notices and Awards of key government agencies. Details about each procurement activity (which includes its approved budget, contract amount, procurement mode, and winning supplier) are all made available online.

“The regular online reporting of agencies’ procurement activities is a huge boost for our fiscal transparency reforms. But we’re looking to take this further next month by expanding the PhilGEPS dashboard. The next step will include citizen feedback, access to bid abstracts, and geo-tagged photos of civil work projects,” Abad said.

Likewise, the BOC is reporting its monthly trade and revenue collection activities online. This includes data on commodity imports like crude and petroleum oils, motor vehicles, coal, fish, rice, iron and steel, as well as the bureau’s top brokers and importers.

The agency uploads the list of imported shipments that arrive in the country every month on its website with information that includes the volume of the item imported as well the duties and taxes paid.

“The ongoing revamp at the bureau is spurring moves for transparency and accountability in their operations. By opening up their data to the people, they are ensuring that every single import transaction is disclosed to the public. This is a significant step in letting the people know how the national government is collecting taxes on their behalf,” Abad said.

Abad said this development is the first time that the BOC is disclosing this much information to the public. He said: “Only by changing our culture and further increasing the expectations of the people for openness can we ensure the continuation of the administration’s reforms.”

Open Data Philippines — launched in January 2014 — engages key agencies to publish their datasets through www.data.gov.ph and makes the data searchable, accessible, and useful to the public.

The primary goal of the data portal is to foster a citizenry empowered to make informed decisions, and to promote efficiency and transparency in the government.

One initiative of PhilGEPS in this direction is the upcoming Procurement Hack on November 22-23, which will bring together developers, designers, researchers, and data gurus all over the country.

Together with Open Data Philippines and Globe Telecom, the initiative aims to harness technology to develop engaging applications that would promote public awareness and monitoring of the procurement process.

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