STUDY: STATE INVESTMENT PROGRAMME LACKS TRANSPARENCY

Published December 17, 2018

A study conducted by Transparency International Lithuania (TI Lithuania) and the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) shows that the State Investment Program (SIP) does not operate transparently enough, disclosing only two-thirds (68%) of what is recommended by the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard (IDS). According to study participants, SIP also does not have clearly defined goals and priorities.

Lithuania’s public disclosure percentage looks average compared to the United Kingdom, Scotland and Argentina, where similar studies were conducted. In Scotland, 95% of information is made public, in Argentina – 62% and in the United Kingdom – 35%. Publicity of the information was evaluated by TI Lithuania based on CoST IDS guidelines that encourage disclosure of significant information about infrastructure projects carried out by the Government.

The majority of the institutional representatives interviewed during the study stated that ministries do not have clearly defined priorities regarding infrastructure investments. It is unclear why certain projects get investments while others do not, as are the reasons behind the suspension of projects. Study participants highlight that, at the moment, there is no institution in Lithuania that consistently plans and monitors infrastructure development in the country.

Residents are often only informed about decisions after they have already been made, and therefore have no influence on possible changes in public spaces. For example, after evaluating the biggest investment projects funded through SIP in 2016, it was revealed that residents were only invited to public consultations 2 out of 5 times. And only 3 out 5 times were they informed about the planned activities but did not attend public deliberation or were not invited.

With regard to the main challenges of SIP, we provide these recommendations:

1. Ensure that the reforms to SIP strengthen coherent long-term infrastructure planning and allow managing authorities to prioritise more effectively, avoiding short-term and arbitrary decisions.

2. Introduce clearly-defined criteria to evaluate the success of infrastructure projects. Public sector institutions should measure the impact of implemented infrastructure projects.

3. Disclose information according to the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard (IDS) to increase the level of transparency and accountability of infrastructure projects. This would allow interested parties to be better informed about the progress of infrastructure projects, scope of completion, reasons for budget changes and other key information.

4. Strengthen the accountability of infrastructure investments by drawing on the experience of independent review of data disclosed throughout the infrastructure project cycle. This will give assurance to citizens that public money is being spent properly and efficiently and delivering value for money.

The research and data collection for this study was undertaken and analysed during the second half of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. The study therefore does not take into consideration the most recent changes to the rules for preparing the SIP that were introduced after the recommendations of National Audit Office to make sure the funds for SIP were managed more effectively.

State Investment Program – Government funds allocated to strategic investment projects. This program aims at securing funding for building and road construction works, IT systems or modernization.

A short overview of the results can be found here (in Lithuanian), a short study in Lithuanian – here, and the study in English here.

More information: Sergejus Muravjovas, sergejus@transparency.lt, +370 689 97579