Panama wins the Alfredo Cantero CoST Award 2023, Thailand receives honourable mention

In this edition, the CoST Awards were focused on activities undertaken between mid-2022 and the end of 2023, focusing on data use, data disclosure and multistakeholder working.

In March, we celebrated the second edition of the CoST Awards, in honor of Alfredo Cantero, a former member of CoST International’s Board of Directors who passed away in 2019.  He worked hard to transform infrastructure transparency, participation and accountability in Honduras and around the world.

The CoST Awards, created in 2021, highlight the work of our members who innovatively promote transparency in infrastructure projects for the benefit of their communities.

The awards are a form of recognition and encouragement of member efforts in achieving quality infrastructure that meets people’s needs and changes lives through improved transparency, participation, and accountability.

All active CoST members and affiliates were eligible to apply. All applications were submitted by the Multi Stakeholder Groups, by the Public Authority leading CoST implementation at the national or subnational levels in that region.

The event was celebrated at the headquarters of the Municipality of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, as part of the CoST International Managers’ Workshop.

Attendees included managers of CoST members and affiliates from Asia, Africa and Latin America, members of the CoST Jalisco Multistakeholder Group, special guests, as well as members of the CoST International Secretariat. The special event also included the family and friends of Alfredo Cantero, which was an honour for the CoST team

The categories’ for the award competition included, Data disclosure which focused on member efforts in increasing the scope, scale, robustness or accuracy of data proactively or reactively disclosed in relation to the planning and provision of infrastructure, and/or the institutionalisation of related processes; and the second category was related to member efforts in effective use of disclosed data to hold decision-makers to account, whereas the third category included member efforts to establish constructive dialogue using the multistakeholder working groups comprising of the three sectors, of Government, Private Sector and Civil Society and achieving tangible results to which that dialogue has contributed.

The jury for the awards was comprised of three international experts in the area of transparency and infrastructure who were responsible for selecting the winners. These were Alexandra Habershon, Program Director and Global Head of Anti-Corruption in the World Bank’s Governance Global Practice Area; Rueben Lifuka, a professional based in Lusaka, Zambia, and Hamish Goldie-Scot, CoST technical advisor.

In the Data Disclosure Category, the award was given to CoST Panama and the honourable mention went to CoST Thailand.

CoST Panama has made significant strides in enhancing transparency, through publishing data on over 3,800 projects in a nearly half a year. These improvements followed their first Index results, which highlighted low levels of transparency. It is encouraging to see governments taking keen interest in addressing results of the index, this clearly explains the role of the CoST Infrastructure Transparency Index (ITI) in improving sector performance.  “With this application we wanted to highlight all the work done to strengthen transparency and accountability in public works in the country, based on the Infrastructure Transparency Index 2023, which revealed some weaknesses in transparency in public projects and available technological tools”, said Aida Martínez, CoST Panama Manager.

The work led by CoST Panama led to the creation of an information platform for infrastructure projects, called “Panama en Obras”, which is connected to the public procurement system, allowing access to information to more than 3,800 public projects and a training of at least 700 public officials.

Chanon Chamnankit, CoST Thailand Manager, explained that their approach was based on “The promotion of CoST Thailand implementation at the provincial level, as an initiative that aims to encourage public participation in local areas and improve data disclosure of procuring entities at provincial level. At the end of the project, disclosure rate of the provinces improved significantly with a higher number of projects published”.

The Alfredo Cantero Award was won by CoST Panama for its outstanding effort to promote transparency and accountability to achieve better lives and a stronger economy from better infrastructure.

Aida Martinez, CoST Panama Manager, highlighted the work done by her programme and detailed that the application was presented by the Government of Panama, through the General Directorate of Public Procurement, supported by all members of the CoST Panama Multi-Stakeholder Group. She also underscored the relevance of the CoST Infrastructure Transparency Index in helping identify gaps in the sector, which opened eyes of stakeholders to scale up transparency in the sector.

About Alfredo Cantero

Alfredo Cantero served as Minister of Transparency for the Honduran government between 2018 and 2019 and was a government representative for five years in the CoST Honduras Multistakeholder Group. He also served on CoST’s International Board of Directors representing the public sector globally.

As Minister, he played a leading role in the establishment of CoST Honduras in 2014, from where he promoted tools and platforms to encourage accountability in government procurement and contracting. He also promoted open data platforms such as the Information and Monitoring System for Works and Supervision Contracts (SISOCS) and SISOCS PPP, a platform for the disclosure of information on projects executed under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism.

In the 2022 edition, the Alfredo Cantero Award was granted to CoST Uganda in recognition of its efforts to promote transparency, citizen participation and accountability to improve lives through infrastructure, by collecting the highest number of impact stories in CoST.

“We want to commemorate Alfredo’s life by honoring the work of the CoST programs each year, we invite CoST Managers to prepare their application for the 2024 edition” said Evelyn Hernandez, CoST Head of Members and Affiliates.