CoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) is the leading global initiative improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure.
CoST works with government, industry and civil society to promote the disclosure, validation and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects. This helps to inform and empower citizens and enables them to hold decision-makers to account. Our experience indicates that Informed citizens and responsive public institutions help drive reforms that reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor quality infrastructure.
CoST works globally with participating countries spanning four continents. In addition to working with CoST members at the national level, CoST works internationally with key anti-corruption organisations to facilitate the global exchange of experience and knowledge on transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. CoST’s international partners include, Article 19, Open Contracting Partnership, Transparency International and Hivos.
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. The CoST approach is focused on four core features: disclosure, assurance, multi-stakeholder working and social accountability. These features provide a global standard for CoST implementation in enhancing infrastructure transparency and accountability. Whilst the standard is universally applied by CoST members, we encourage it to be adapted to country contexts, so it is appropriately applied to different political, economic and social systems.
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.