CoST endeavours to increase the accountability of public sector organisations and construction companies for their construction projects by disclosing information at all stages of the construction project cycle. It is, however, recognised that the disclosure of this information may not be sufficient on its own to achieve greater accountability. This is because some of the information is likely to be complex and not easily intelligible to the general public. To ensure that the information that is released is both accurate and available in a form that can easily be understood by stakeholders, it is verified and interpreted by experts appointed for this purpose – the
assurance team. Eight projects have been identified by the UK Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) to form a pilot study of operation of this initiative, in the UK. The MSG has divided the ‘CoST projects’ into two groups of 4 projects referred to as Group A and Group B. The M40 Junction 15 Bypass scheme is one of the chosen Group A projects.
The Highways Agency is improving the M40 at Junction 15 by a combination of new road construction and by widening existing roads within a 1 mile radius of the M40. The decision to construct this scheme followed a detailed assessment of options, including costs and benefits. The site works began in 2008 and are due for completion in late summer 2010.
The Highways Agency operates procedures for the control of cost, management of the programme of work and monitoring of quality. They have made full and accurate disclosure of documents demonstrating their procedures for awarding contracts for this project and in operating their procedures with clear evidence of a transparent approval process. However some draft documents have never been marked as “final” or “approved” and this is an area
where “processes” could be improved.
The UK pilot is led by the UK CoST Multi-Stakeholder Group. It is supported by the Department for International Development, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Treasury. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is managing the pilot study on behalf of the UK CoST Multi-Stakeholder Group.