LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. The Philippines is the first recipient of the Bright Spots Award at this year's Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit held on October 31 to November 1, 2013. The country bested six other countries (Chile, Estonia, Georgia, Indonesia, Montenegro and Romania) that also showcased transparency projects geared toward improving government efficiency and accountability.

The Philippine entry for the Bright Spots Award is the Commission on Audit's Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) Project. Launched on November 26, 2012, the CPA Project aims to increase awareness and government transparency through citizen involvement in the audit process. It is a constructive and collaborative partnership between the government and citizens through civil society organizations (CSOs).

This award is not just an achievement of the Commission. This is a milestone for the entire country. It is inspiring to see how the Filipinos are now more vigilant, involved and committed to ensuring that we have a government that is for and truly accountable to the people, says COA Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido Tan.

Reforms happen when two naturally opposing parties [the government and its citizens] would come together and work together to form concrete solutions. That is our bright spot, says Vivien Suerte-Cortez, Country Innovations Manager of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP). ANSA-EAP is the COA's CSO partner in the pilot runs of the CPA Project, which is being funded by the Australian Agency for International Development.

Three CPA pilots have been conducted in the following areas: (1) CAMANAVA Flood Control Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways, (2) Barangay Health Centers in Marikina City, and (3) Solid Waste Management Program of the Quezon City Government. The next pilot audit will be on the School Building Program of the Department of Education's Public-Private Partnership.

The CPA Project Management Team is led by Commissioner Heidi Mendoza with Director Aida Maria Talavera as Team Leader, Maria Ramona Jimenez as Operations Assistant, and Ana Patricia Lapus as Citizens' Desk Coordinator.