ASOG brings together development practitioners, academics in joint webinar with IDInsight, PIDS on the power of data in public policy
31 Mar 2023
IDInsight, the Ateneo School of Government through the Ateneo Policy Center, and the Philippine Institute of Development Studies recently conducted an online roundtable titled “Maximizing Social Impact: The Power of Data in Public Policy.” The webinar was held last 23 March 2023 via Zoom and Facebook Live and was attended by around 350 online participants of a diverse cohort: individuals from the academe, researchers, government workers, civil servants, professionals, and development practitioners.
The event was designed to engage experts and thought leaders in evidence-based policymaking to share their experiences and best practices for leveraging data to inform policy decisions and improve programs.
In his opening remarks, Dr Philip Arnold Tuaño, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, offered a reminder of the vulnerability of data despite its deepening role in making informed decisions. Dr Tuaño argued: “Data alone is not sufficient to make good policy decisions. Data must be complemented by sound judgment, expertise, and the understanding of the social, economic, and political context in which policies can be developed and implemented.”
The discussion featured two innovations in generating data to support evidence-based policymaking. Dr Celia Reyes, Former President of PIDS and Network Leader of CBMS, shared her lifelong work, the Community-Based Monitoring System, which is an organized system for gathering, processing, and validating necessary disaggregated data that can be technology-based. It has been used by many local government units nationwide for planning, program implementation, and impact monitoring at the local level while enabling communities to take part in the process.
“Most importantly, CBMS empowers communities to demand the services they need,” said Dr Reyes.
Ms Sarah Lucas, Global Data on Command Lead of IDInsight, followed suit to talk about Data on Demand, which aims to institutionalize data use and deliver high-quality, representative survey data to social sector leaders through careful consideration of people’s needs, preferences, living conditions, and behaviors in contributing to the implementation of high-impact policies and programs. Ms Lucas appealed to the public by emphasizing the value of working together as a community, creating collective support and accountability for the transparent and effective use of data and evidence.
Dr Imelda Deinla, Convenor of BOSES Pilipinas, weighed in on the subject first, articulating the involvement of facilitators and barriers in the use and nonuse of data. “It’s not only data that is important in policy. In fact, we can see that the policy cycle—the policy process—demands more than data. It is embedded in the political, social, and economic contexts,” Dr Deinla said. Corroborating her sentiments, Dr. Robin Garcia, Founder and Chairman of WR Numero Research, discussed some social and structural barriers to appreciating research and why it is imperative to demand a cognitive shift.
Both speakers broached the topic of fostering a culture of data literacy and research, encouraging movements in research innovation, making research more accessible to policymakers, and strengthening the agency of communities by involving them as direct participants in data collection. Ms Bernadette Mandap of CBMS also joined the afternoon’s panel discussion.
To conclude the webinar, Dr Ancieto Orbeta Jr, President of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, lauded the role of relevant and reliable data, which becomes exceedingly significant in forming government decisions at the local and national levels and creating responsive plans in times of crisis similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ending his remarks on a hopeful note, Dr Orbeta honors that the government’s willingness to invest in technology-enabled data generation systems is within reach when efforts are sufficiently directed toward recognizing the value of having rich and disaggregated data.
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