CoST expands into Eastern Europe
The Ukrainian State Road Agency (Ukravtodor) has announced that it has joined CoST and will commence a CoST Ukraine programme shortly.
In becoming the twelfth country to join CoST, Ukraine’s membership of CoST is supported by the Word Bank, who believes that it will play a vital role in driving greater transparency in the public construction sector. Over the last year, the CoST International Secretariat (IS) has worked in close collaboration with Ukravtodor to develop an implementation plan.
By adopting CoST principles and engaging both public and private stakeholders, Ukravtodor hopes the CoST Ukraine programme will help strengthen transparency and accountability of public works administration, specifically to address poor governance and mitigate corruption, reduce risks and increase public safety, create fair competition in industry and increase the potential for foreign direct investment.
The M-03 Kiev -Kharkiv- Dovzhansky highway reconstruction project between Lubny and Poltava, co-financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was selected as a pilot project for testing the implementation and effectiveness of CoST principles in the country. Implementation is likely to commence in early 2014.
CoST included in UK Action Plan
The UK government is supporting CoST, as part of its wider vision to promote openness and accountability. This commitment appears in the UK Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2013 – 2015:
“The UK government will promote the principles of transparency and accountability in all government-funded construction projects in the domestic and international arenas, including, in the period up until 2015:
- working with others in government and civil society to identify suitable projects for the application of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) in the UK; and
- using its bilateral and multilateral relationships to encourage the establishment of at least four new national CoST programmes in countries where DFID is working”.
Infrastructure UK will lead the efforts in the domestic arena whilst the Department for International Development (DFID) will continue its work in the global arena. As well as funding the three year pilot in seven countries, DFID has continued to provide direct financial support to three CoST countries; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Vietnam.
In response, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Integrity Action and Engineers Against Poverty, together with the CoST UK Multi-Stakeholder Group, stated:
“We are delighted that the UK government has taken the crucial decision to support CoST, as part of its wider vision to promote openness. The commitment to support CoST on a domestic level, in addition to promoting the initiative on an international basis, will enable us to improve governance whilst improving management and efficiency in the delivery of public sector construction projects and programmes.”
Leading by example, the UK follows Guatemala in including CoST as a public commitment under OGP. It represents a call to action for more countries to include CoST in their National Action Plans.
Mexico confirms interest in CoST at the Open Government Partnership Summit
The Mexican Government has confirmed that it is seriously considering joining CoST in early 2014. Julián Alfonso Olivas Ugalde, Secretary of Public Administration (see right flanked by Christiaan Poortman and Petter Matthews), made the announcement at a panel debate on 'Transparency and Accountability in Public Infrastructure' at the Open Government Partnership Summit.
Also on the Panel were Chris Vein, Chief Innovation Officer for Global Information and Communications Technology Development at the World Bank, Christiaan Poortman, Chair of the CoST Board and Claire Schouten, Programme Director at Integrity Action. The debate was chaired by Petter Matthews, Executive Director, CoST International Secretariat.
Over 1000 delegates from across the world came together at OGP's Summit in London. Opened by Prime Minister David Cameron, the two day Summit focused on transparency and openness, and drew participants from 60 countries.
CoST's John Hawkins also took part in the Joined Up Data workshop alongside representatives from GIFT, Open Contracting, EITI and IATA and at the Launch of the Open Government Guide. Published by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative the Guide includes a chapter on construction.
Please go to our storify page for more on CoST at the OGP Summit.
CoST in Indonesia
The Construction Development Agency (BPK) of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) Indonesia recently hosted an Expert Panel Workshop on Transparency in the Construction Sector in Indonesia. The purpose was to outline issues and current initiatives for promoting transparency in public works construction in Indonesia and to introduce CoST as a potential resource or partner in these efforts.
Jointly organized by BPK, the National Construction Services Development Board (LPJK), the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), and supported by the Australian Aid-funded Indonesia Infrastructure Initiative (IndII), the workshop was attended by 25 individuals drawn from the public works sector and academia.
BPK is convinced that more needs to be done to make the construction industry more efficient, so as to raise the reputation and integrity of the industry and reduce the risk premium. The importance of transparency for competition was repeatedly stressed and participants were very eager to discover how CoST might contribute.
Prof George Ofori (Deputy Chair, CoST Board) and Dr. Bill Paterson (CoST IS and IndII adviser) explained the aims and development of the CoST initiative, outlined the key processes – multi-stakeholder engagement, disclosure, assurance and monitoring – as well as the steps involved in establishing a national CoST programme.
During the discussion it emerged that much project data is currently available in the government’s e-Procurement and e-Monitoring systems, which could be accessed centrally through PusData, the Ministry of Public Works centre for information management and data processing. There is also an existing partnership of BPK with the Department of Statistics for gathering and evaluating statistics on the industry. These existing mechanisms could be upgraded to incorporate the CoST disclosure standard. IndII support for Bina Marga (Directorate-General of Highways (DGH)) under the technical assistance for Improved National Roads Program Delivery could help facilitate and implement these upgrades.
It became evident from the discussions that there is a strong interest for CoST in Indonesia. BPK and MPW are currently developing a work plan and next steps to explore the potential for implementing CoST.
CoST Blog: A Salvadoran Experience
Liz Aguirre from the Ministry of Public Works in El Salvador has overseen each step of the CoST El Salvador journey since Gerson Martinez, Minister of Public Works decided that they should join CoST.
To read more about her experience of joining CoST and developing a national CoST programme please go to our blog page.
Season's Greetings with all good wishes for the New Year from the CoST International Secretariat!