“Since 2016, CoST has been a reliable partner to the Ministry of Infrastructure in the sphere of road monitoring. We have created the Road Fund, decentralised Ukravtodor, and transferred considerable financial resources towards road repairs: independence and oversight is of the highest importance for constructing road networks in Ukraine. CoST analysis helps to improve procurement, the implementation of road projects and the efficient management of the transport sector’’
Former Minister for Infrastructure of Ukraine (2016 – 2019) and CoST Ukraine Champion, Volodymyr Omelyan
Prior to CoST: Public infrastructure in context
Unfair business practices and large-scale corruption – especially in road construction – have historically been commonplace in Ukraine. At Ukravtodor, the State Road Agency of Ukraine (UAD), for instance, it was common practice for companies with links to high ranking officials to win tenders through these connections alone. Projects that required multiple checks, certificates, agreements and signatures from various technical departments and inspectorates also represented an opportunity for corruption. According to a report from the State Financial inspection in 2011-2012, the state lost the equivalent of USD $9.2 million from corrupt practices at the UAD alone.
Other problems related to a chronic lack of financing for infrastructure projects, frequent changes in legislation and regulations, unclear roles for audit authorities and unclear disclosure guidelines.
CoST Ukraine: How it all began
CoST Ukraine was initially established in November 2013 by the UAD, supported by the World Bank and the Government of Ukraine. However, due to the political instability affecting Ukraine at this time, active work did not commence until 2015. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between CoST International Secretariat, Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, UAD and Transparency International Ukraine in 2015 which formalised the launch of the programme.
The four features of CoST
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.
Disclosure in Ukraine
The disclosure process ensures that key information about the purpose, scope, costs and execution of infrastructure projects is open and accessible to the public, and that it is disclosed in a timely manner. Key to the disclosure process is the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard (CoST IDS). The CoST IDS requires 40 data points or ‘items’ to be disclosed at key stages of an infrastructure project cycle: identification, preparation, completion, procurement and implementation.
Following the signing of the MoU in 2015, CoST Ukraine started to work with the UAD to disclose data from four pilot projects, in accordance with the CoST IDS.
In 2018 CoST Ukraine launched its online disclosure platform, the Transparent Infrastructure Open Data Portal. That year, 24 Regional Road Agencies started to disclose data on the portal in line with the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard (CoST IDS). Between 2018-2019, nine Oblast State Administrations also started to disclose data on local road projects on the portal.
As of August 2019, more than 6800 contracts have been published and disclosed on it.
CoST Ukraine has an active training programme, which it uses to build capacity within government, the private sector, civil society and the public. In 2016, more than 30 government bodies were trained on disclosing data in line with the CoST IDS, in sessions supported by the World Bank. In 2019, CoST Ukraine held a series of training sessions on the road sector for government, business, the media and civil society. The events, held in both Sumy and Lviv regions, provided training in the skills needed to ensure accountability throughout the whole of the road project cycle, including overseeing procurement, analysing the quality of infrastructure and recognising discrepancies.
The Transparent Infrastructure Open Data Portal publishes data on a range of projects, including some of the most and least active regional road agencies.
In 2019 the portal was updated to include analytical dashboards, which focus primarily on the construction and repair of public highways. The platform is highly efficient and data is updated daily – 40% is automatically incorporated from Ukraine’s renowned ProZorro procurement portal, ensuring accuracy of data and avoiding duplication of effort. The remainder is input manually.
In September 2019, CoST Ukraine signed a second MoU with the recently appointed Government of Ukraine and Transparency International Ukraine. The memorandum transfers ownership of the CoST Ukraine disclosure platform and analytical dashboards to the Government, thus signifying an important step towards institutionalising CoST across government systems.
Multi-Stakeholder working in Ukraine
CoST brings together stakeholder groups with different perspectives and backgrounds from across government, private sector, civil society and the media. Through each national programme’s multi-stakeholder group (MSG), these entities can guide the delivery of CoST and pursue infrastructure transparency and accountability within a neutral forum.
The MSG is made up of three representatives from government, three from the private sector and four from civil society,
When in office, the fifth President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, praised the work of CoST Ukraine, saying:
‘‘I would like to thank CоST for absolutely transparent and objective information…a comprehensive set of activities means we are going to build more with €30 billion than we were able to build with €50 billion in the past.’’
The CoST assurance process is an independent review of the disclosed data by assurance teams based within CoST national programmes. The teams identify key issues of concern in relation to the items listed in the CoST IDS and put technical jargon into plain language. This allows social accountability stakeholders to easily understand the issues and hold decision-makers to account.
As of April 2018, CoST Ukraine had published five assurance reports. In its fifth report it looked at the Chernivetska Electrical Substation – a relatively new area explored by CoST members. In terms of the road sector, several of the recommendations from CoST Ukraine’s assurance process were adopted by the State Automobile Roads Agency of Ukraine, Ukravtodor and the Ministry of Infrastructure. These include the development of standard procedures for the procurement of road repairs and instigating long-term planning around road repairs
CoST works with social accountability stakeholders such as civil society and the media to promote the findings from its assurance process so that they can then put key issues into the public domain. In this way, civil society, the media and citizens can all be aware of issues and hold decision-makers to account.
In 2019 CoST Ukraine began a new programme of engagement with civil society, local authorities and the media to enhance procurement monitoring on local road repairs. As part of this project, CoST Ukraine delivered three training sessions to over 100 representatives from civil society and local government in three different regions.
This work has resulted in the creation of three regional coordinator roles to support local non-governmental organisations and work with local authorities in monitoring the quality of local road repairs.
Prior to this, in 2018 CoST Ukraine had delivered training to 50 participants from local communities on monitoring road quality and procurement, in order to build capacity at a local level. In 2019, these training sessions expanded to include the media: 39 journalists from regions across Ukraine were trained to report on road repairs, gathering data and using the data portal’s analytical module. Engagement from journalists is key to keeping issues surrounding infrastructure transparency in the public eye, maintaining pressure on government to find solutions and ensure problems do not occur again. Increasing interaction with the media will therefore be a key long term aim of CoST Ukraine.
Get in touch
CoST Ukraine Country Manager