Pertinax was the Roman emperor who lasted the shortest in office, only 86 days. His problem was wanting to fight corruption without the support of his subjects, who did not support the measures he adopted. The lasting lesson is that to fight and eliminate corruption is an effort that requires the participation of the State and all segments of society.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, much remains to be done to eliminate corruption in public procurement systems. According to a study published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the region loses 4.4% of GDP per year because of waste. This amount reaches a total of $220 billion, equivalent to the resources needed to eradicate extreme poverty in the entire region.
Fortunately, there are more tools today than those available for Pertinax in his time. The first of them are institutional reforms to promote greater transparency and integrity. The second is digitization. Both tools are considered key pillars within the IDB's Vision 2025 to promote development and economic recovery in the region.
"Advancing the transparency and integrity agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean will be vital to promote sustainable recovery in the post-pandemic era," said Roberto de Michele, principal specialist in transparency and integrity in the Institutions for Development sector at the IDB. “Greater transparency can increase investor confidence in our region and improve the efficiency of public spending. The good news is that there are technologies and institutions like the IDB to support the countries with the necessary reforms.”
To combat, prevent and control corruption, IDB studies have identified that it is necessary to combine regulatory reforms with digital technologies. This allows governments to achieve better levels of transparency and integrity while companies can invest and generate jobs more efficiently, and citizens can empower themselves and trust their governments.
Therefore, part of the solution involves helping governments make public spending transparent through laws and mechanisms that ensure access to information, combined with digital platforms that make transparency effective. InvestmentMap, or ‘MapaInversiones' is a digital tool developed by the IDB, with the support of Microsoft, and the Transparency Fund, that is helping achieve this objective.
This tool aims to systematize and disseminate information on investment projects and public spending in one place, through channels that facilitate control, analysis, and decision-making. The information on public investment projects in InvestmentMap is georeferenced, allowing citizens to participate through comments, images, suggestions, and complaints.
“By combining access to information with technology, InvestmentMap unlocks the potential of transparency and accountability to identify irregularities and prevent the inappropriate use of public resources,” says Juan Cruz Vieyra, senior specialist in the Innovation division. to Serve the IDB Citizen.
The tool is flexible and allows each country to adapt its functionalities to its specific needs. Currently, eleven countries in the region have adopted the solution to make more than US $ 140 billion in resources transparent since 2013. Below you will learn how some of the countries are using the solution.
Argentina: A Knowledge Map for Public Works
InvestmentMap Argentina was launched in October 2020. This platform helped reorganize internal systems, standardized the way infrastructure investment data was collected, and even promoted the development of new tools to capture information.
Despite having been in operation for just a year, the platform already monitors more than three thousand works and projects, reached one million users that contributed with more than 230 comments. This platform was strengthened by the recommendations of the Public Works Observatory (made up of actors from the public and private sectors) and aims to expand gradually, including new functionalities that allow, for example, decision-making to reduce the gender gap and diversity within the construction sector.
In October 2021, a new version of In Argentina was launched, which includes new functionalities and more information on works, projects and even satellite images.
Colombia: An Image is Worth a Thousand Royalties
In Colombia, the challenge was to monitor the expenditure of resources from royalties (mining and oil taxes) at a lower cost and to reduce the possibility that these were assigned arbitrarily. The solution was MapaRegalías, today known as InvestmentMap Colombia.
In this country, the platform improved efficiency in resource execution by almost eight percentage points after its launch in 2014. The photographs available to the public jumped nine-fold in three years, allowing the government to identify abnormalities and abuses in different projects thanks to the social control of citizens.
Costa Rica: Public Investment Supervisors
In Costa Rica, citizens asked for more transparency in the management of public resources to know how their tax money was being used. To respond to this need, the government launched InvestmentMap Costa Rica, in March 2018 with support from the IDB, where they urged citizens to help supervise public investment.
“The tool has multiple benefits, since - in addition to allowing the government to inform citizens about the investments through a unified and easy-to-understand format - it allows the administration to include citizens in the discussion of public policies, use the data provided by the platform to improve decision-making on projects and take advantage of the use of such massive data to prevent and control corruption," said Mario Durán Fernández, former Vice Minister of Reforms and Projects of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, during the launch of the platform in 2018.
An IDB pilot study showed that projects published on the platform performed better than unpublished ones. In just three months of operating InvestmentMap, the financial progress of the projects uploaded to the platform increased by 18 percentage points and their physical progress by eight percentage points, compared to those not published. To take advantage of the positive impact of the platform, today known as Accountability, in December 2020 the government launched its COVID-19 module. A new update is expected in mid-2022.
Paraguay: Artificial Intelligence to Prevent Corruption
In Paraguay, citizens actively demand greater transparency in the management of resources associated with the pandemic.
For this reason, the country decided to implement Accountability (Rindiendo Cuentas), and later the Paraguay in Results Module, which provides data on planning, budgeting and execution of projects financed with public resources. In addition to allowing citizen oversight, it facilitates a clear alignment between resource management, the National Development Plan, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Moreover, in September 2021, Paraguay’s government and the IDB deepened their collaboration to implement an early warning system on corruption associated with public procurement in the country. The system aims to monitor the value chain of contractual processes, generate alerts and block contracting processes that present irregularities according to the existing legal and regulatory framework, using machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence.
Peru: Extracting Corruption with the Help of All
In Peru, the mining sector represents almost 10% of the national GDP, contributes between 15% and 20% of public income, and generates more than 200,000 well-paid direct formal jobs.
However, the communities closest to the mining activity have historically not perceived the benefits of this industry, both due to the low enforcement capacity of the authorities and the lack of information on public investments. This has generated repeated social protests that paralyze works and limit investment.
To make the impact of the sector visible, and at the same time ensure correct management of resources, the country launched InvestmentMap Perú País Minero in 2020. It is possible to see in the platform the more than 50,000 public projects financed totally or partially with transfers generated by mining, together with their level of financial and physical execution. The platform also makes it possible to determine the number of mining jobs held by women.
The Transparency Map
Today in Latin America and the Caribbean, more and more people are joining the transparency and anti-corruption cause. InvestmentMap has more than one million unique users in the different countries of the region.
In addition to these efforts, since 2007 the IDB has granted more than $23 million in technical cooperations to improve transparency and integrity in the public and private sectors of the region, and member countries have initiated loan programs for more than $2 billion for advance their transparency, integrity, and corruption control agenda. As a result, the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean will be able to continue improving the management of public resources in a united way.
To learn more about InvestmentMap visit our website where you can see the platform by country.
If you want more information about this and other tools, download our publication “Digital Technologies for Transparency in Public Investment: New Tools to Empower Citizens and Governments”.