Recognizing that Operations Research possesses powerful tools that could help :

› optimize limited government resources
› bring objective means to reaching decisions and thus limit undue
political influences , and
› improve provisions to the marginalized sectors of society,

Elise del Rosario shown receiving Plaque of Appreciation from DOE Secretary Vince Perez for ORSP work on the Optimization of Power Dispatching

The Operations Research Society of the Philippines, through the dynamic leadership of past president Wilson Wy Tiu, formed the Committee on Operations Research for Public Service (ORSP Corps).

ORSP Corps is the organization’s response to the call for greater participation in public service and nation building. The ORSP Corps will market OR as a resource-maximizing tool that could provide an objective basis for decision – making in government. It will explore potential applications, and through the extensive ORSP network, carry out these projects. It is the objective to eventually make this a financially self-supporting endeavor.

Dept of Industry Undersecretary Ernie Ordonez (in suit) presenting an appreciation gift to Elise del Rosario for ORSP work on the Bureau of Customs as well as North Harbor Study. Also in the picture are Ike Seneres (National Computer Center Director), and former ORSP Presidents JC Mercado and Wilson Wy Tiu.

Organizationally, it is chaired by Elise del Rosario with JC Mercado, Geoffrey Chua, and Mari-Jo Ruiz as the Board of Quality Reviewers.

Past projects include work with the Department of Energy (DoE), the National Power Corporation and the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL).

ORSP Corps Celebrates Fourth Year

November 24, 2003 marked the fourth year that ORSP Committee on OR for Public Service (ORSP Corps) was launched to move closer to the ORSP long-term mission of helping in nation-building through the use of OR. In its four years, the ORSP Corps has completed five projects, namely, Privatization of the Manila North Harbor, Assessment of the Bureau of Customs shift to the Transaction Value System, Assessment and Streamlining of the Data Capture at the Bureau of Customs, Selection and Deployment of Quick Count Facilities for the Namfrel, and Optimization of Power Dispatch in the Luzon Grid.

The objective of the Privatization of the Manila North Harbor Project under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry is to determine the financial impact of contracting one versus two operators for the development and operation of the Manila North Harbor. Started in December 1999, the project was completed in eight months, most of which was spent in data gathering, researches, and the NPV analysis of alternatives. The results showed the economic feasibility of both a single and two proprietors for the North Harbor. Included in the analysis were sensitivity of results to changes in assumptions on capital expenditure, variable costs, market size, and other factors such as the absence or presence of auxiliary facilities. Results of the study were cited once by DTI and later by the Coalition on Ports Modernization in their press releases. ORSP Corps was invited to testify in a congressional hearing on the matter. This study was undertaken by Elise del Rosario and Wilson Wy Tiu and presented to DTI Secretary Mar Roxas and the then-NEDA Chair Felipe Medalla.

When this first project was at its winding up stages, the group was again requested by DTI to look into the concern of the business sector regarding the impending shift of the Bureau of Customs from the SGS to the Transaction Value system of imported goods valuation. Factual basis for the concerns were researched through interviews and research by Elise del Rosario and JC Mercado. Among other specific measures, the use of Expert Systems to ensure transparency and decrease discretion in most aspects of the valuation process was recommended to the multi-sectoral Economic Mobilization Group organized by the DTI.

Right after completion of the second project in September 2000 came the request from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to assess and streamline its data capture project within the Bureau of Customs. This was an extensive project that required a bigger team, consisting of Elise del Rosario, Dennis Beng Hui and analysts Michael Don Naranjo, Michael Tuason and Joyce Yang. The group was tasked with documenting transactions with emphasis on the control aspects of the data entry process providing inputs to the automated BOC system. Along with the documentation was the objective of recommending procedural and personnel-related measures to streamline operations. Through the use of simulation, information flow analysis, equipment and flow process redesign, the group recommended specific procedural control measures supported by re-lay out of facilities, introduction of new equipment, and reduction of personnel. The results showed significant savings while eliminating control problems. These results were presented to the PCCI and BOC management.

JC Mercado, meanwhile did his part for the aborted plan of the Namfrel to prepare for the quick count. Over the period December into March 2002, he devised and ran programs that determined the optimum allocation of computer equipment, given the various capabilities of computers available for the activity. Even if the Namfrel was not given permission to execute the plan, the exercise served to open the eyes of other people on the usefulness and capabilities of OR modeling (For more of this, see article that appeared in the ORSP Newsletter on October, 2002 written by the Namfrel Executive Director).

Completed in March 2003, the last project undertaken by ORSP Corps, Optimizing Power Dispatch in the Luzon Grid, was for the Department of Energy Secretary Vince Perez and DTI BOI Chair Greg Domingo. This project took nearly a year and required the expertise of Elise del Rosario, JC Mercado, Mari-Jo Ruiz, Geoffrey Chua, and analysts Benson Calacday, Joseph Hui, Lawrence Liao, Ryan Liwanag, and Alyson Yap. The study used a mixed-integer programming model to determine the minimum total cost of power generation for the National Power Corporation and its Independent Power Plants. Results of the study, which involved millions of variables, challenged some widely-held beliefs and rules of thumb in the dispatch of plants. They were presented to the various energy sectors and players for use as inputs in policy decisions.

Other projects were also investigated, but for lack of project requestor commitment, were not completed. They are: the data center location for PhilHealth, shipping rates rationalization for the whole Philippines for the DTI, visa processing streamlining for the Department of Foreign Affairs as part of the improvement of its public service, for DENR, investigation of enablers for SMEs to comply with environmental laws and finally, for the Department of Labor, the location of employment centers as well as the conduct of OR training for analysts in the planning department.

As can be seen, the government is a vast area that can definitely benefit from significant savings, better public service, streamlined processes, and informed decision-making. With more OR practitioners who would be willing to chip in (without expecting their just reward) and with sustained support from the public servants involved, ORSP Corps can, and will, continue to do its work. Will ORSP Corps still be as healthy, if not healthier, in its 10th year? Part of the answer lies with you!