The Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) has reported the findings of its first pilot study in the UK. The two-and-a-half year project was designed to highlight the potential for corruption and mismanagement in the construction sector, and the value of transparency in mitigating these problems. Similar pilot studies are also underway in Ethiopia, Malawi, the Philippines, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia.

Results were disclosed from eight public sector construction projects, along with a baseline study to show current levels of transparency in the construction industry

The UK pilot study found that little information is disclosed to the public about what construction is procured, what it is for and what costs are involved. It also said the general public was not fully informed about the construction procurement process. However, the report also said that disclosure of procurement details would help improve transparency and drive costs down.

The scheme was set up in the UK under the auspices of the Department for International Development, and commenting on the results, secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell said, "One of the most effective ways to clamp down on the corruption and mismanagement that can often blight construction projects around the developing world is to shine a light on them. By encouraging transparency CoST is playing a vital role in building a safer, more efficient construction sector in developing and developed countries alike."

The UK pilot scheme involved four public sector bodies, including the Highways Agency and Environment Agency. Information about construction projects procured by these bodies was then supplied to an independent Assurance Team, which scrutinised them for any suspect areas.

Publication of the report on the UK pilot scheme will be followed by a three-month consultation, which will look at how the lessons learned could best be applied to the developing world.

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