Today CoST Costa Rica publishes its First Assurance Report which shows average data disclosure by procuring entities to be 51%, with two entities – the Costa Rican Social Security Agency and the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers marking high rates of 82% and 71% respectively. The rate of disclosure is assessed against the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard which requires 40 key items (or points) to be disclosed across key stages of the project cycle.
Despite the relatively high level seen for the first report, rates of disclosure are not consistent across project cycle stages, with a tendency to decrease as the cycle evolves. For example, 71% of the information related to project identification and preparation is ‘proactively’ disclosed (disclosed by procuring entities on their electronic portals) but this figure drops to 29% during contract implementation.
Other key issues
The Costa Rica Assurance Team assessed 10 projects for the report, seven of which related to the roads sector and the remainder to energy, water and health. One key issue the report raises is in relation to claims submitted after the contract was awarded: 60% of the projects assessed received a challenge against the winning bidder. The report therefore calls for further investigation to understand why bidding decisions were challenged so they can be avoided in the future.
In relation to project modification, one road project carried out in the Alajuela Province raises concerns. After 14 years of execution, with multiple changes beyond its original scope, the project was suspended following the termination of the contract. Further, many deficiencies in the project’s preparatory geotechnical studies were identified, resulting in a cost increase of 281% and the contractor submitting a total of 43 requests to alter the project before its final termination.
Taking into consideration these and other issues, the report calls on:
- Procuring entities to investigate reasons behind project modifications and improve planning skills to mitigate potential alterations during implementation
- For increased transparency during contract execution, especially in regards to project modification claims where disclosure rates were low
- For the institutionalisation of standards to increase proactive disclosure (disclosure made without official request)
- For increased facilitation of access to information requests from the population and for the integration of different online data disclosure portals (such as the System of Public Procurement, SICOP and MapaInversiones) to be expedited, bringing data together and allowing better ease of access.
These and other findings and recommendations will be highlighted at an event held in Costa Rica today attended by the first lady of Costa Rica and CoST Champion, Señora Claudia Dobles Camargo alongside other representatives of government, private sector and civil society. For updates from the event which begins at 8.30am, 2.30pm GMT follow us on @CoSTransparency.