PLANS by stakeholders in the local construction industry to adopt London-based Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) that is officially backed by legislation have been commended.
In its latest report, CoST said their Tanzanian counterparts were pushing Public Procurement Regulatory Authority to adopt its transparency reporting format to be legislated.
"CoST Tanzania is attempting to persuade its Public Procurement Regulatory Authority to adopt the same policy using a similar legal basis," said John Hawkins who is CoST International Secretariat Programme Manager. Mr Hawkins revealed that so far the government of Guatemala has also adopted the CoST format.
"This approach is sensible as it builds on the disclosure requirements enshrined in current public procurement legislation," he noted. He argued that the CoST reporting format identifies a number of emerging lessons that could benefit both existing and future CoST countries."
One of the most important indicators of CoST's success is when a government chooses to integrate CoST disclosure requirements into its own systems.
This begins to make disclosure of information from publicly funded infrastructure projects a routine activity within governments," Hawkins wrote in the report.
He revealed that late last year the Guatemalan government became the first country to make the disclosure of the project information in the CoST format a legal requirement for all public procuring entities.
Where public procurement is more centralised within government, powerful national public procurement authorities are beginning to take responsibility for disclosure, noted Hawkins.
"For example, the Ethiopian Public Procurement and Property Administration Authority will use its legal mandate to demand that government procuring entities disclose the CoST project information standard through its website," his report said.
National CoST programmes are overseen by Multi-Stakeholder Groups (MSG) with representatives from civil society, industry as well as government.
"Having key government institutions such as the national procurement authority (Malawi, Tanzania and Ethiopia) represented on the MSG has helped MSGs to understand the most likely legal or regulatory vehicle for incorporating the disclosure requirements," Hawkins wrote.
Any new disclosure requirement can only be considered a success if procuring entities comply with it. The CoST pilot (2008 to 2011) highlighted that poor compliance with current disclosure requirements was due to a lack of knowledge of the law and an absence of internal policy and procedures.
To overcome this, the Ethiopian and Guatemala MSGs have trained almost 500 procuring entity officials on the disclosure requirements. This means that ignorance will no longer be considered an excuse for nondisclosure.