Remarks by Clay Epperson, USAID Acting Mission Director, Open Government Partnership and Bottom-up Budgeting Sessions

Monday, August 31, 2015

[As Prepared]


Good afternoon!

On behalf of the U.S. Government, I am pleased to join everyone here today in recognizing the numerous milestones of the Philippine Government in its pursuit of improved governance.

As many of us gathered here are aware, both the U.S. and the Philippines are founding members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Broadly, the OGP is an international platform for more meaningful engagements and dialogues between the government and the people it serves. It is a global standard for promoting accountability, transparency, citizen engagement and use of technology to strengthen governance. We are all here because we believe in the power of transparency, accountability, participation, and inclusion in transforming the direction of development.

It is amazing to learn that in a short span of four years, this initiative has accomplished a lot: OGP has broadened its base from eight countries in 2011 to 66 this year, secured more ambitious commitments and increased accountabilities from participating countries, and created more platforms for lesson-sharing across the globe. In all these gains, it is the people that have benefitted the most.

Here in the Philippines, I am aware that your efforts have started paying off: citizens are becoming more engaged with the government’s budgeting processes, especially at the preparation and execution stages of the budget; expenditure data, including revenue flows from extractive operations are more transparent and easier to understand; and government’s use of e-procurement is increasing. Government agencies have also started shifting from input budgeting to performance-informed budgeting, and the use of open data to monitor government policies, finances, and performance is gaining popularity.

It is no wonder that the Philippines has already won two OGP awards since 2011, one is for its citizen participatory audit initiative in 2012 and the other for its grassroots participatory budgeting reform in 2014. Your steadfast efforts in reforming your government have earned the Philippines substantial gains beyond OGP, including increased ratings in both investment grade and the Open Budget Index and Corruption Perceptions Index, improved public service delivery and perhaps most notably, robust economic growth. Indeed, these accomplishments bring inspiration to Filipinos and serve as benchmarks for future administrations to sustain the reform momentum this government has started.

Despite these gains, you are not standing still. I admire your ambition and commitment to ACHIEVING MORE. This gathering demonstrates that you are prepared to come together and act as one body, working towards a shared vision of improving governance and of uplifting the welfare of all Filipinos. Later today, we will witness the launching of the Philippines’ third OGP Country Action Plan, crafted with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

We at USAID remain committed to supporting the Philippine Government in its efforts to strengthen governance to achieve growth that is both inclusive and sustainable. Our continued support to the plans and activities of the Philippines-OGP and the Philippines-Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) exemplify the United States’ commitment to open governance and fiscal transparency. We all share the same view that a governance path that is rooted in transparency, accountability, and meaningful participation will help the Philippine Government to becoming more open, engaging, effective and responsive to the needs of all its citizens.

It is because of your determination to foster transparency, accountability and efficiency in government that I know you will succeed in making the Philippines a more prosperous and well-governed nation. I urge you to sustain your commitment to open and good governance and I wish you success in this event and in all your reform efforts.

Thank you and good day.

Issuing Country