In August 2017, CoST Panama published its Scoping Study, assessing data disclosed from 12 infrastructure projects in Panama which finds that on average only 17 data points on infrastructure projects are proactively released into the public domain – less than half of the amount required by the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard.
Addressing over 100 participants from government, private sector, civil society and the media at the launch of the study, Ms Leah Cedeño-Estrada said, “The study is the first step towards enhancing transparency in public infrastructure in Panama. By compiling information on the various projects assessed, it gives us a starting point from which CoST can be adapted to the national context. Furthermore, it emphasises the need to strengthen the disclosure process within the legal framework on infrastructure transparency.”
Other panellists at the event included, Ms Angelica Maytin, Director General of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information, Mr Gustavo Eissenmann, Senior Partner at Deloitte Consulting and Mr Eduardo Corro, Director General of Panama´s Public Procurement General Directorate who outlined the importance of open contracting in public infrastructure.
In her opening remarks, Ms Maytin emphasised that disclosure, “leads to the introduction of reforms that reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and reduce the risk of poor quality projects.”
The Study makes recommendations which target the different stakeholders involved in open contracting in public infrastructure and which relate areas including strengthening legislation, developing systems which enhance public data disclosure and improving citizenship participation.
For the Government, it focuses on strengthening its law on transparency and access to information (Law 6, 2002) and its law on public procurement (Law 22, 2006). It also points to increasing the capacity of the Autoridad Nacional de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información (National Authority for Transparency and Information Access) to apply sanctions when information is not disclosed and to adopt regulations to increase transparency in the bidding process to increase the proactive disclosure of information.
To improve means to monitor accountability it outlines the need to carry out independent studies and to develop metrics on information disclosure. It also recommends establishing a platform on data disclosure to centralise information which should be interconnected with Panama’s online public procurement platform PanamaCompra.
To increase citizenship participation the Study promotes developing an awareness campaign on citizen participation and access to information and for citizenship participation programmes on public infrastructure projects to be carried out on a national scale.