Operating under the Office of the Executive Secretary (OSEC), the Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM) allows the implementation of each University Student Government (USG) unit’s initiatives and projects, ensuring that these activities are up to the USG and the University’s standards and values. To do this, the department sets up systems for document submissions and requirement checking for each project.
However, slow response times, delayed processing, inconsistent checking of memoranda of agreement (MOAs), among others, have plagued the OSEC subunit, affecting other USG units looking to implement their projects. Regardless, DAAM Chairperson Justine Abad and Vice-Chairperson Gwendolyn Ang remain committed to ensuring that their department’s processes are as smooth as possible and their internal structure as organized.
Project heads and college presidents alike have mixed views concerning DAAM’s processes. A common concern was difficulties in reaching out to the department. EDGE2020 Batch President Clouie Astillo shares that DAAM was not responsive toward their concerns and clarifications in one particular project, which led to the delay of their submission of required documents by a week.
Aside from communication issues, Nathan* (IV, IME-IT) also highlights setbacks in document processing, such as for MOAs, which affect partnerships with other organizations. Their college government was able to pass a specific MOA on time; however, months passed without an update from either DAAM or the Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE). This affected their unit’s ability to pass their term-end report, a requirement for clearance per term. However, Nathan admits that it is also the unit’s responsibility to follow up with DAAM for pending requests.
Conversely, former EDGE2019 Batch Vice President Sabine Gonda and School of Economics President Martin Regulano argue that they did not encounter such issues or inconsistencies. Regulano asserts that these delays are faults on the processing unit’s end and that these may be caused by other offices and not necessarily by DAAM.
SLIFE also had issues with long lead times. While Astillo shares that policies are not hard to comply with, Regulano, Gonda, and Nathan state that the prescribed lead time makes it difficult to arrange partnerships. At worst, these could delay projects, which could be costly in terms of scheduling of events and confirming resource speakers’ availability.
Increased manpower, ‘improved’ processes
Confronting these issues, Abad shares that concerns raised by previous project heads are not unfounded. DAAM only had 37 people in the past academic year (AY); this made it difficult to address concerns and track the various documents being processed in coordination with other University offices. Officers were stretched thin in handling operations, while various members were “missing in action.” The DAAM chairperson stresses that while their department had a proper workflow and coordination with SLIFE, members felt as if they were “only working with documents,” and not interacting as a whole.
Sudden changes in SLIFE’s document processing guidelines also posed difficulties for DAAM, forcing officers to adjust to the new directives immediately. This contributed to the delay in the document processing of various USG units since additional requirements were now needed.
Despite these being brought up, Abad ensures that changes in the department’s workflow and increase in manpower will be enough to address the needs of the various USG units. For instance, DAAM has grown to have 87 members since the last AY, with 12 to 15 officers per committee. To ensure that each member is well-versed with the department’s operations, all of them are required to undergo a “rigorous training session” before being accepted and to attend process orientation workshops. Ang also shares that the OSEC subunit has created initiatives that would allow the officers to engage with one another.
DAAM has also extended its communication channels to Telegram to lessen miscommunication and delayed replies. There, the department launched a project titled Coll Me, a group chat for all project units. Project heads for each activity, along with their corresponding officers in charge, are included in the group chat. Each officer also has an assigned document and is designated as the point person for any assignment concerns.
DAAM also recently established two new committees: the MOA Screening Team and the Publications Review Team.
While the latter team was created to cross-check publication materials that would be posted on social media pages, the committee is still being built.
Meanwhile, Abad stresses that the creation of the MOA Screening Team is crucial to DAAM’s essential functions. They will be handling the centralized database for all external partners and a process flowchart to aid members in visualizing the step-by-step procedures DAAM follows.
In trying to achieve their goal of ensuring maximum engagement with other USG units, the department will also be posting a feedback form to aid DAAM in knowing where they could improve on.
“Apart from us giving [project heads] the processes of DAAM, it’s really important din to hear what they have to say and what their common problem is, so we could really address their concerns,” Abad explains.
The future for DAAM
While she is confident in the newly implemented processes of this AY, the DAAM chairperson confesses that there are still areas to improve on. Despite their improved operations, Abad recognizes that there still are instances wherein some emails or documents are overlooked. To avoid this, DAAM plans to automate its documentation and approval processes. A partnership with the La Salle Computer Society is currently in the works, as the department plans to create a website to ease the load handled by members and project heads.
Ultimately, Abad envisions DAAM to have a stable workflow and committed officers.
“I get that it can be overwhelming…but one thing we really want for all the officers staying in DAAM is for them to find the purpose of what they’re doing for the student body and how we affect the projects that the units are launching,” the department chairperson ends.
*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms