Argentina case study finds significant scope for progress in infrastructure transparency and accountability

CoST - the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative published a case study which outlines how Argentina could see great benefit from embracing greater transparency and accountability in its infrastructure sector. The study was launched as part of the Open Government Partnership Regional Americas Meeting during Open Government Week where key stakeholders united to focus on the open government agenda.

Over recent years, Argentina has taken major steps to improve transparency and fight corruption by putting in place anti-corruption policies and legal reforms relating to transparency. From December, it will assume the presidency of the powerful G20 presidency where it will make infrastructure development one of its key priorities.

"The study is published at an opportune time - although there is room for improvement, the current positive climate and political will in Argentina could ensure a successful implementation of CoST," said Guillermo Fiad, President of the Argentine rail construction and management company (Trenes Argentinos Infraestructura). He continued, "By increasing transparency and accountability in the delivery of public infrastructure in Argentina, enormous benefits could be seen in terms of improving lives and ensuring better value for money."

CoST, whose international branch is hosted by Engineers Against Poverty, works by disclosing data from public infrastructure investments, allowing citizens to hold policy makers to account. Since it was established in 2012, a growing number of countries within the Americas have joined the programme including Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama. 

The Argentina case study assesses the disclosure of infrastructure project information by procuring entities contracted to work on public infrastructure. It compares the type of data and the amount they disclose against the internationally recognised standard developed by CoST - the Infrastructure Data Standard.  

The study finds that the legal requirements for procuring entities to disclose contract and project data only covers 50% of the data recommended by the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard. The procuring entities analysed in the study go beyond the legal minimum requirements illustrating that it is possible to deliver infrastructure in a more transparent manner although there is still room for improvement. The study asserts that if the legal framework was strengthened, particularly through Argentina’s Law on Public Investment, this would have a significant impact on the level of disclosure and ultimately, on transparency.

Associate Director for CoST International, Bernadine Fernz said, “The challenges faced in transparency and accountability in public infrastructure have been typically associated with low and middle-income countries, but our study demonstrates that economies such as Argentina experience substantial shortfalls in transparency and accountability in infrastructure. There is no reason why the benefits that CoST has seen such as cost savings, improvements to project design and better environmental standards cannot be applied across the Americas.”

The Argentina case study is the first of four country studies which make up a global study on the value that CoST can bring to high-income countries. Other countries included in the series are Denmark, Lithuania and the United Kingdom and these studies will be published over the coming year.

Click here to download a conference ready version of the case study. 
Date Published: 13 December 2017
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