Buenos Aires boosts transparency reforms with CoST affiliate membership

On Wednesday 8 May the Province of Buenos Aires announced its CoST membership. The Province has set its sights high in terms of reaching international standards of open government and infrastructure transparency, and will use its CoST membership to compliment reforms already underway.

It becomes CoST’s first affiliate member, and will adopt specific aspects of the CoST approach to enhance transparency and accountability in infrastructure. A two-tiered approach to membership ensures CoST is adaptable to as many contexts as possible, regardless of the level of support which is needed. Buenos Aires also becomes the second sub-national government to join the initiative after Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, Ghana joined in March 2019.

CoST is the leading global initiative promoting transparency and accountability within public infrastructure. Our approach is focused on four core features: disclosure, assurance, multi-stakeholder working and social accountability. These features provide a global standard for enhancing infrastructure transparency and accountability: empowered with information on how money is being spent on public infrastructure, citizens can demand more from decision-makers.

Membership launch

Today the Province of Buenos Aires announced its CoST membership at Argentina Abierta, the leading event celebrating open government in Argentina. Argentina Abierta attracts over 1500 attendees annually and hosts open government advocates from across civil society, the media and government, and so is an excellent platform from which to announce the initiative.

During a panel event, the Infrastructure Minister of the Province of Buenos Aires spoke on the importance of infrastructure transparency and its commitment to working with CoST.

CoST Regional Manager for Latin America Manuel González also spoke at the panel discussion, outlining the benefits which CoST membership will bring to Buenos Aires Province. Other panel speakers include Secretary for Modernisation, Communication and Strategic Development for the Municipality of Córdoba, Marcelo Cossar; Undersecretary of Strategic Management and Institutional Quality for Buenos Aires City, Alvaro Herrero and Provincial Director for Open Government and Programme Evaluation for Buenos Aires, Mariana San Martin.

Background to membership

In 2016, the City of Buenos Aires created BA Obras, a platform allowing residents to monitor over eight hundred public work projects in the city. In 2017 the Province of Buenos Aries decided to replicate BA Obras on a provincial scale, on a platform which will be called the Portal of Open Works in Buenos Aires.

The Portal of Open Works in Buenos Aires will hold information on over 3,000 public works and will incorporate the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard in infrastructure data monitoring. This will allow citizens to easily access information and ultimately ensure a more transparent and accountable project cycle.

The team responsible for the application saw the implementation of the CoST IDS as crucial to the success of the portal and its ability to strengthen transparency in infrastructure. The CoST IDS requires 40 data items to be disclosed at key stages of the infrastructure project cycle, it has been internationally recognised by the World Bank’s Framework on PPPs, the Global Infrastructure Basel, Transparency International and others and applied in almost 20 countries worldwide to rapidly improve levels of open data.

The CoST application was conducted by Emmanuel Ferrario, the Undersecretary of Planning, Coordination and Evaluation of Management. The Provincial Office of Evaluation and Open Government, which is part of the office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers, was also responsible for developing the application, with support from the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education. These departments all carry out projects which will be included in the Portal of Open Works in Buenos Aires.

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