Lack of transparency is a key concern in latest assurance report from CoST Guatemala
CoST Guatemala has published its fifth assurance report, featuring analysis of over thirty public sector infrastructure projects across roads, water, sanitation, schools, hospitals, municipal buildings, sports facilities and parks.
According to Guatemalan law, the disclosure of 31 data points from the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard (IDS) is required via the national e-procurement portal, Guatecompras. Initially, the level of disclosure from the new projects was found to be very low. However following intervention from the CoST Assurance Team, an additional 32% of the data required was disclosed bringing the average disclosure rate to 56%. The report also followed up on twelve projects that were previously assessed in the fourth Assurance Report and found that, again, CoST’s involvement had led to increases in disclosure from 32% to 66%.
The report shows that with the continued support from CoST Guatemala, the level of disclosure from the majority of PEs in public infrastructure projects has increased. However, several key technical and legal challenges to transparency and accountability were identified:
Time overruns – All projects reviewed in the fifth Assurance process incurred time overruns, with the most critical cases reaching a 400% contract period increase. These time overruns were not accompanied by expected cost overruns, suggesting either discrepancies in data or mismanagement.
Legal exemptions – All projects from the General Directorate of Roads incurred a cost overrun due to the fact that they are exempt, by law, from many of the procurement regulations governing other entities.
Disclosure through Guatecompras still faces challenges including: a lack of performance indicators in the pre contract stage; failures to comply with indicators in the contract stage; and insufficient publication of personal data.
Infrastructure investment in Guatemala has struggled in 2015 with many projects having been suspended due to lack of funds, including bridges, schools, water systems and roads in different parts of the country. In order to deliver better value from public investments, the following recommendations have been made:
Increase the level of disclosure from PEs at each stage of the project cycle, in line with the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard; PEs should play an active role, disclosing data proactively instead of upon request from external stakeholders.
Eliminate legal exceptions that allow certain procuring entities to sidestep the rules and procedures that promote effective management of projects and resources
The complete CoST Guatemala fifth assurance report is available here.
Following a launch event in December covered by El Periodico (content in Spanish), the assurance report is now being widely disseminated by the CoST Guatemala Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) in order to utilise this transparency to deliver greater accountability. CoST Guatemala will continue to work with stakeholders in order to deliver better value from infrastructure and help change lives on the ground. To find out more about the work and impact of CoST Guatemala, please visit their website.