CoST Country Managers: Working together to strengthen capacity
CoST Country Managers came together for a four-day training workshop in London to build capacity and support shared learning. Covering four continents, CoST Country Managers have a wealth of knowledge around both the best practices for and challenges of working with stakeholders to deliver better value from public infrastructure. The workshop sessions were therefore designed to provide guidance from the Secretariat, whilst facilitating the exchange of experiences across countries to develop new approaches.
The workshop focused on the three core features of CoST: disclosure, assurance and multi-stakeholder working. With the recent launch of programmes in Botswana, Thailand and the Ukraine, the workshop also provided Country Managers with an opportunity to get to know each other better and build a globally connected community. Participants discussed regional commonalities, exploring ways in which to strengthen cross-country partnerships in Africa, Asia and Latin America for good governance in infrastructure.
CoST increases transparency by disclosing data on public infrastructure projects. During the workshop, Country Managers in Honduras and Thailand delivered interactive presentations on their countries’ digital open data resources and the processes for mainstreaming disclosure in this manner. In Honduras, SISOCS has been established as a subsystem of the national e-procurement portal to provide citizens with access to information on public infrastructure. Whilst in Thailand, the Airport Authority of Thailand (AOT) has developed a website to disclose proactive information on the expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport which is valued at an estimated US$ 2.6 billion.
CoST promotes accountability through an independent review of the disclosed data. A key highlight from the discussions of assurance was the need for review of the entire life cycle of a project. Currently the initial design phase of a project – where the need, concept and planning of a project are undertaken prior to contract tendering – is often not included in assurance due to a lack of available data. However a key success of CoST Guatemala arose from investigation of design procedures for a bridge project, resulting in a saving of US$5 million. At national level, CoST should support government agencies to disclose data on the entire life cycle of a project to gain a comprehensive overview.
CoST provides better value from public infrastructure for governments, industry and civil society so all stakeholders must be involved in the discussion. The workshop explored the need to engage the wider citizenry and media in the transparency and accountability of public infrastructure. CoST Malawi have invested significant efforts in developing this social accountability, including media awards to encourage reporting on public infrastructure and the development of an SMS platform to facilitate interaction with the public.
Ultimately, the workshop built synergies across national programmes and will strengthen delivery of the CoST initiative globally. The International Secretariat will continue to share success stories and best practices arising from the implementation of CoST worldwide so as to support the delivery of better value public infrastructure.