The effects of corruption on public investment have been defined as highly distortive, and hindering the quality and efficiency of public-investment-financed goods. More specifically, corruption generates unjust losses, cost overruns, bottlenecks and unfair allocation of resources. Latin America has an efficiency gap in public investment. Countries efficient in public investment can get twice as much growth per dollar invested than those that aren’t. A chronic lack of transparency is one of the main causes of this gap, as resources can be easily diverted.
Relevant Vulnerability Points
Government Transactions and Public Procurement
Culture, Ethics and Engagement
Analytics, Reporting and Transparency
The Solution Case
The InvestmentMap initiative aims to create information management platforms to improve the transparency and efficiency of public investments in Latin America and the Caribbean. This initiative combines online information visualization projects and transparency-oriented, results-based programmes.
A defining characteristic of the InvestmentMap platform is that there is a webpage for each project displaying information in a simple and intuitive way, including the financial and physical progress of each project. Participation mechanisms are also included in the platform, so that users can send their demands and contributions to policy-makers and monitor the projects, for example, by uploading photos to certify their progress.
The base of the data visualization and georeferencing was achieved by applying an Enterprise Architecture (EA) design, and three implementation phases: development, testing and production.
The InvestmentMap experience shows the benefits and usefulness of scaling a country-specific pilot at a regional level. Some components of a similar effort, the MapaRegalías platform (Colombia), were reused and expanded in the design and implementation of the InvestmentMap platforms. This was allowed not only by economies of scale, but also by diminishing learning costs, and the reputational benefit of already having implemented a successful solution such as MapaRegalías in Colombia.
The dissemination of open data platforms to civil society and private-sector stakeholders is a significant gap that should be addressed if this experience is to be replicated in other regions. This implies not only beefing up communicational efforts once the platforms have been launched, but also bringing to the table civil society and business leaders to have a better sense of how the local stakeholders will be using technological tools, and to adapt the solution to their suggestions and recommendations.
The primary lesson learned is the necessity to balance the needs and requirements of the treated institution in the host country with the fact that launching an open data platform usually requires significant overhauls of databases in terms of how the information is stored, completed, listed and presented. As such, providing customer-oriented solutions that take into account particular situations and specificities should be reconciled with the fact that improving data is sometimes costly in terms of human and financial resources, as well as in coordination efforts at an inter-institutional level.
Second, as they will be the main users, it is crucial to work closely with local stakeholders when developing an open government tool. This lesson was vividly experienced during a series of focus groups and in-depth informational interviews carried out in Paraguay in September 2017 with local civil society and business leaders. Thanks to this business group, the InvestmentMap team was able to gather significant information on how to improve the design and usability of the platforms, as well as to include significant information that otherwise wouldn’t be have been included.
Finally, multidisciplinary and multinational teams proved key to the successful implementation of this initiative. The InvestmentMap team includes experts in management, social sciences and technology with proven experience in the development and implementation of result-oriented tools for decision-makers. The team crafted state-of-the-art front-ends (visualization of data and citizen participation) and back-ends (included business intelligence and advanced data analysis) for the platforms, and conducted a thorough review of the quality of information in each country.
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