Campaign group ‘Engineers Against Poverty’, investigating transparency in the UK construction and public works, has found significant barriers in access to information.
… placing a significant barrier to projects being subject to appropriate scrutiny and doing little to reassure the public that funds are being used appropriately…
The Construction Index writes:
Engineers Against Poverty has released the findings of its investigation into the transparency and ease of access of data on UK public infrastructure.
Assessing a selection of projects, the investigation shows significant barriers faced in searching for data, and that in some instances data is entirely missing.
Maria da Graça Prado, senior policy and research adviser for Engineers Against Poverty, said: “The nature of the infrastructure sector – with high value contracts and technical project cycles – makes it particularly prone to corruption. It is therefore worrying that our investigation revealed a lack of transparency in the sector in the UK, placing a significant barrier to projects being subject to appropriate scrutiny and doing little to reassure the public that funds are being used appropriately.”
For the investigation, Engineers Against Poverty selected eight high-value transport projects overseen by Transport for London and Highways England. The second set of projects included four healthcare infrastructure projects delivered by the NHS Development Authority during the pandemic ….
For the transport projects, data on key stages of the project cycle – from contracting to project implementation – was spread across multiple agencies and websites, creating a lack of clarity on who should be held to account.
Specifically, it found that basic data relating to the completion of projects and data on variances in project delivery (such as variations to contract price, contract duration) was not found on public sources. This makes it hard to understand how much had actually been spent on projects or the delay they may have been subject to, the research team said.
Tender details, including the number and names of firms who responded to the bid for the projects and the reasons why bidders were selected, were also not found.
For more background see Engineers Against Poverty