CoST Honduras agreement with transparency commissions fuels demand for citizen involvement

CoST Honduras has signed an agreement with 90 citizen transparency commissions to increase transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. As part of the agreement CoST Honduras will share information on infrastructure data and assurance, in addition to providing workshop training on SISOCS, a subsystem of the national e-procurement portal. SISOCS allows citizens to access information on the construction, supervision and maintenance of public infrastructure, such as road networks. It is an excellent example of CoST being used in the everyday management of public infrastructure, enabling users to understand the physical and financial progress of a project.

CoST Honduras led workshops at the beginning of March for 129 participants across La Paz, Siguatepeque and Copan. Aimed at the general public, the workshops sought to highlight what CoST does, what type of data is disclosed and what they can do with this information. The workshop empowered participants to use this data in order to demand accountability from their policy-makers for better value infrastructure. As a result of the events, a group of citizens in Jesus de Otoro organised their own meeting to discuss the specific infrastructure projects affecting their community. Working together to use the information and support provided by CoST Honduras, they are putting pressure on the contracting authority and local policy-makers to demand better value from local road maintenance works. CoST Honduras MSG Member Espacio Regional de Occidente (EROC) has loaned the citizens basic equipment such as professional rulers, thermometers and high visibility jackets, in addition to developing a social accountability methodology which provides them with the assessment tools needed to monitor progress.

The citizens now regularly meet with the CoST Honduras Assurance Team to discuss their findings and monitor the continued works. This has highlighted where works have been completed insufficiently or where certain areas of the town have been bypassed. A key finding from the citizens’ monitoring efforts was that the delivery time of a road project had been extended but this amendment to the official contract was not publicly available on SISOCS. Roads provide citizens with access to schools, hospitals and markets; if they are not being delivered according to the original agreement, citizens have the right to understand where their money has gone. Together with CoST Honduras, the citizens are now putting pressure on the construction and supervision firms to improve their practices in accordance with their contracts.

CoST Honduras intends to continue building demand for citizen monitoring and supporting local citizens and citizen transparency commissions in the region to ensure better value from infrastructure. Specifically, the citizens will be invited to discuss their findings and the results of the Assurance Team’s work at the launch of CoST Honduras’ second assurance report, due in August 2016. This will support them to put into practice the report’s recommendations at a local level and ensure accountability, whilst CoST Honduras leads the process nationally. To find out more about the CoST Honduras assurance process and findings, please visit their website and follow @CostHonduras for the latest updates.