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Better public infrastructure through open contracting: How CoST and the OCP will work together

By 2030, it is estimated that close to US$6 trillion could be lost annually in construction through corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency. To improve the lives of billions of people worldwide, we need to take action to make sure citizens get better and safer roads, schools, hospitals. Improved transparency and accountability are vital.

CoST, the Construction Sector Transparency initiative, works with governments, businesses and citizens around the world to get better value from public infrastructure investments through the principles that guide the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP). We are both very excited today to be signing an engagement agreement to work together to maximise our impact on making sure that the trillions that will be spent on delivering global infrastructure over the coming decades deliver on their promise  of public benefit.

Our agreement cements an informal partnership that began in 2012 when CoST joined other stakeholders to found the OCP as a platform for collective action on open contracting across different sectors. We have extensively contributed into each other’s strategy development since this time and the OCP is now a member of CoST’s Strategic Review Advisory Panel. We are going to focus on  several key areas including developing an infrastructure extension to the Open Contracting Data Standard based on the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard. This will allow us to combine both the OCP’s guiding principles of open contracting and open data with CoST’s specific knowledge and assurance mechanisms for positive social, economic and political impact in public infrastructure. This will unlock existing information that is often on paper and share it  online to put it into the hands of our partners in real time.

Disclosing data is not enough. If information is not understandable and useable, it becomes redundant. By aligning our complimentary tools, we will avoid duplicating processes and create a universal disclosure tool born from both the overall principles of open contracting and the sector specific knowledge of infrastructure. Ultimately, we will work to ensure that end users have greater data analysis that is applicable at local level and supports demands for accountability. CoST has a particular strength in building robust multi-stakeholder partnerships in local countries that will support better training and capacity building of open contracting data users too

Two voices are louder than one. With disclosure, use of information and multi-stakeholder collaboration at the heart of our efforts, we will coordinate our advocacy activities and reinforce each other’s key messages. A united front will provide us with greater leverage to influence the global debate around transparency and accountability in public contracting. Infrastructure has gained prominence within international fora, such as the United Nations and the G20, but we need to demonstrate that governance must be at the heart of this mission in order to have a sustainable impact.  

To that end, we are going to focus on better monitoring, learning and evaluation together, from both successes and failures, to understand the opportunities and challenges of open contracting processes in public infrastructure. We are going to translate what we learn into joint capacity building activities to empower our stakeholders.

Together, we have a richer understanding of best practices within public contracting and the infrastructure sector. Collaborating on learning and capacity building will ensure that lessons learnt travel both to and from actors at the local and global level.

As dynamic and evolving programmes, we will remain flexible in our approach but this engagement agreement marks the official launch of a collaboration to add the most sustained value to the field of transparency and accountability. You can find out more about how we plan to work together here or follow us on Twitter (@CoSTransparency and @opencontracting) to join with us, keep up-to-date and get involved!

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