We want our work to become redundant

CoST is the open contracting initiative for public infrastructure. We will be attending the Tackling Corruption Together conference on 11 May 2016, which precedes the UK Government’s Anti-Corruption Summit on 12 May 2016.

CoST works to tackle corruption in public infrastructure investments through transparency and accountability and we want our work to become redundant. Our wish for the legacy of the Anti-Corruption Summit: London 2016 is that open contracting in public infrastructure becomes ‘business as usual’ for governments across the world. This will improve efficiency and reduce mismanagement, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor infrastructure.

We want governments to embed open contracting within public infrastructure, recognising that it demonstrates accountability, identifies potential efficiency savings and helps increase the flow of direct overseas investment. We want businesses to support open contracting within public infrastructure, as they understand it ensures a level playing field and reduces the costs and risks of doing business. We want communities to demand open contracting within public infrastructure, so that they get the access to improved roads, clean drinking water, education in well-built schools and medical treatment in safe hospitals that they deserve. Most of all, we want government, business and civil society to commit to this shared agenda for anti-corruption in order for it to achieve lasting, credible impact.

Without significant improvements in the delivery of public infrastructure, up to US$5 trillion could be lost annually by 2025. We want corruption within public infrastructure to be at the forefront of the international policy agenda, so that there is an active force working to drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists. As Geoff French, Past President of Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) said: “Corruption occurs in the shadows, the great thing about CoST is it shines a light on the dark areas and illuminates them”. CoST partners with global initiatives such as the Open Contracting Partnership and Open Government Partnership but we need greater awareness and a united front across stakeholders.

We want disclosure of public infrastructure data to be conducted throughout the entire project cycle, in line with the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard (IDS). We want this information to not only be publicly available but globally comparable, creating an international transparency index for public infrastructure. This would facilitate the identification of best practices and concentrate attention on areas where a lack of transparency and accountability is hindering the delivery of public infrastructure.

We want there to be accountability in public infrastructure, not just transparency. We work to promote accountability through an independent review of disclosed data. Through this assurance process, CoST validates technical data, interprets it into plain language and identifies issues of concern. This helps stakeholders to understand the main issues and acts as a basis for holding decision-makers accountable, empowering victims and supporting activists. We want governments to take ownership of this accountability, incorporating data reviews into their own processes, supporting stakeholders to understand disclosed data and bringing an end to impunity.

Ultimately we want good governance in public infrastructure that supports sustainable development. If we want to meet the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, it is vital that all countries apply CoST in the delivery of public infrastructure. This landmark international anti-corruption summit is a positive step but we want more. We need more. Effective public infrastructure is essential to poverty reduction and economic growth but corruption currently stands in its way. We want this to end.

Blog written by Eleanor Morgan, CoST Communications Manager.