By Jesus P. Estanislao
In the parlance often used by governance practitioners, a distinction is made between “output” and “outcomes.” This distinction at first looks purely semantic. But these practitioners insist that “output” is generally understood as the measurable result of an activity, i.e., any activity, such as the “body count of enemy combatants” resulting from any military operation. On the other hand, “outcome” has to have at least the promise of something more game-changing and transformative over time. The example that comes to mind: the peace that eventually is won and sustained in war-afflicted areas or zones. In this regard, while “body count” may qualify as a “major final output,” and is useful for administrative purposes, of even greater significance over the long term is a measurement involving citizen or stakeholder engagement in bayanihan projects. This measurement may point to the eventual sustenance of the peace (and development) process in the area or zone.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) viewed the measurement of “stakeholder engagement” as an “outcome” measure, which points to the possibly strategic, more transformative objective being attained in the long road ahead. It is for this reason that DTI embarked on getting a numerical reading on “stakeholder engagement.” Again, Jeanne Pacheco reports: “starting 2012, the DTI employed a survey tool to measure its clients’ level of engagement. Do they consider themselves informed, consulted, involved, collaborated with or empowered?” These were the questions DTI wanted to obtain numerical answers to.
It soon got these answers. Again, Ms. Pacheco: “In 2013, the first time ‘stakeholder engagement rating’ or SER was first made available, the DTI obtained a rating of 84.0%; this increased in 2014 to 86.5%; but then in 2015, the SER declined to 81.8 %. Thus, at first, a wave of enthusiasm swept over us in 2014; then, it dawned on us that we have some homework to do. A red flag was raised before our eyes by the decline in our SER rating in 2015.”
As the Performance Governance System (PGS)-mandated process demands, once a red flag is raised, there has to be a focused effort in finding out why, and then in addressing the problem which may have caused that red flag to fly. This is precisely what DTI did. Ms. Pacheco narrates:”the 2015 SER, with its red flag, revealed the following:
- The decline in 2015 from the level already reached in 2014 was mainly due to policies on standards.
- Furthermore, ‘the level of engagement” stayed mostly at the “informed” level, with 64% of stakeholders saying they consider themselves informed.
- Only about half of DTI’s stakeholders said they felt they were involved; and only a third of such stakeholders felt they were collaborating in a meaningful and substantive manner.
- Finally, only 6% of stakeholders considered themselves as empowered.
- All the above was indicative of the homework DTI had to undertake, despite the 96% of DTI stakeholders considering themselves satisfied with DTI policies.”
Ms. Pacheco continues: “The SER results led DTI to look for specific and concrete ways “to improve stakeholder engagement. It intensified its program to win collaboration from various sectors of Philippine industry. It facilitated the formulation of 36 industry roadmaps, with the private sector taking the lead and DTI serving only as an enabler. It also strengthened and invigorated the work of the many councils that DTI has been mandated to set up to substantiate public-private sector collaboration. Significant among these councils is the National Competitiveness Council, which helped DTI pursue its goal of achieving top third ranking in competitiveness surveys.”
This flurry of meaningful activities aimed at enriching stakeholder engagement is one more proof that “what one measures, one gets to manage”: with “the SER being regularly tracked, DTI has become more conscious of the need to pursue ever more vigorously public-private sector partnerships for the development and transformation of Philippine industry over the long term.”