The Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) works with governments, industry and local communities around the world to get better value from public infrastructure investment by increasing transparency and accountability.
CoST is a multi-stakeholder initiative with 15 participating countries spanning four continents. Launched in 2012, CoST grew out of the lessons learnt from a three-year pilot programme which tested the viability of a new transparency and accountability process in eight countries.
CoST promotes transparency by disclosing data from public infrastructure investment. This helps to inform and empower citizens, enabling them to hold decision-makers to account. Informed citizens and responsive public institutions can lead to the introduction of reforms that will reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor infrastructure.
CoST works at the national and international level to facilitate the global exchange of experience and knowledge on transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. In so doing, CoST works closely with other global transparency initiatives like the Open Government Partnership and the Open Contracting Partnership.
How does CoST work?
At the international level, CoST provides a set of principles and guidance on increasing transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. At the national level, CoST has established a framework for evaluating and recognising the performance of country-led programmes.
CoST comprises three core features which provide a global standard for transparency and accountability in the delivery of public infrastructure. This standard is flexible, allowing it to be applied in different political, economic, regulatory and social contexts. The core features of CoST are: Disclosure; Assurance; and Multi-Stakeholder Working.
The initiative supports country operations through guidance, technical support and the exchange of knowledge and experience. At the national level, CoST reflects local conditions and preferences in its operations. National programmes are locally led and managed, adapting and applying the core features of CoST according to the local legal, institutional and sector environment.
CoST achieves its impact by strengthening social accountability. Firstly, governments disclose data on infrastructure investment. Secondly, MSGs use this disclosed data to generate interest among stakeholders and draw their attention to unresolved problems. Thirdly, stakeholders then put pressure on government to deal with specific problems and introduce reforms that prevent similar problems occurring in the future. Ultimately, this results in better quality public services that enable businesses to grow and communities to thrive.
CoST seeks to help participating countries deliver better value from public infrastructure.This goal is to achieve the delivery of good quality infrastructure projects at lower cost, with increased predictability of outcomes.
The processes which CoST goes through work towards this goal are shown in the results chain diagram below and can be summarised as follows:
- CoST provides support to governments to put systems in place that allow public access to reliable and detailed construction project information.
- CoST also provides support to Multi-Stakeholder Groups to oversee the validation and interpretation of the information and build the capacity of the target audiences to understand what the information means to them.
- Empowered with information and understanding, stakeholders (citizens, media, parliament, oversight agencies) raise challenges over poor performance, perceived mismanagement, or corruption. Where possible, they will demand better project outcomes, savings, and more effective and efficient governance systems for delivery.
- Government responds to the concerns raised, by commissioning audits into specific projects or wider reviews into the performance of an agency or the sector as a whole. It is equipped with information to investigate alleged mismanagement and corruption and can act subsequently to sanction staff or prosecute offenders.
Where is Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST)