Korea’s ‘Clean Construction System’ for enhancing transparency in public construction shared with Ukraine

Jun 23, 2016

Webinar participants from Ukraine and Korea discuss Seoul’s Clean Construction System (photos: USPC)

The UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC), in partnership with the UNDP Ukraine Country Office, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) of the Republic of Korea, and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, organized a state-of-the-art webinar on 17 June, 2016 entitled “Enhancing Transparency in Public Construction: Sharing Developments in Korea and Ukraine,” with the aim to share with Ukraine the experiences and lessons learnt from SMG’s Clean Construction System (CCS) for efficient public administration and transparency in construction management.

Introduced in 2011, CCS is an effective technological and institutional approach to enhancing transparency, efficiency, and the protection of construction workers’ rights in the public construction sector. The system won the prestigious UN Public Service Award in 2013, in recognition of its innovation and potential for application in other countries.

The webinar shared technical and policy information on Seoul’s CCS in an interactive format with some 15 Ukrainian government officials and key stakeholders, including the Head of Electronic Workflow and Control Department in the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Democratic Governance Advisor in UNDP Ukraine, Director of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) Ukraine, senior portfolio manager from World Bank Ukraine, partner IT enterprise representatives, as well as local government representatives.

The event featured a combination of webinar presentations, live online discussions and Q&A sessions. The main presentation prepared jointly by USPC and SMG included not just an overview of CCS, but also a substantive and technical description of Seoul’s One Project Management Information System (One-PMIS) and the Construction Informer (“Allimi”) System. One-PMIS allows for the systematic and effective real-time management of public construction projects, and automatically transmits about 90% of this information to the Allimi for public access.

“I am aware of the outstanding and historical reform initiatives that are being undertaken in Ukraine, and therefore I am extremely pleased that we are sharing best practices from Korea to increase transparency and accountability in the construction sector. We look forward to working closely with Ukraine, with this webinar as a springboard,” said Mr. Artemy Izmestiev, Director a.i. of USPC in his opening remarks delivered through a video message.

“Ukraine has become a special country for us, as a partner, and I hope that today’s webinar will give you some key information on our clean construction system,” said Mr. Jong Geon Kim, Director of Seoul’s Construction Management Department. “We would like to offer our experiences and knowledge in the spirit of partnership. We hope that our system and lessons learnt will provide a useful and inspiring reference point for our partners and colleagues in Ukraine.”

Following the political revolution in Ukraine, policies and laws are currently being updated and ministries are undergoing reforms to include systems similar to One-PMIS in the construction sector. In this context, Ukraine has been seeking best practices to increase transparency and accountability in the construction sector and has identified SMG’s CCS as an exemplary case.

“In Ukraine, we talk a lot about fighting corruption, but the people still don’t feel much has changed. The Korean experience is unique because it shows that dedicated, specialized systems can actually make a big difference and inspire change around the world,” said Dr. Marcus Brand, Democratic Governance Advisor in UNDP Ukraine in his opening remarks.

During the webinar, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, UNDP Ukraine and CoST also provided a joint presentation, on the national reform milestones and transparency framework that have paved the way for clean construction initiatives in Ukraine.

“Current projects within the Ministry of infrastructure [in Ukraine] include the development of an electronic workflow system. We have set up a new web portal and an open data portal […] in order to enhance the level of administration and planning, and to make cooperation between the Ministry, state-run enterprises and other businesses more effective,” remarked Mr. Roman Sotnyk, Head of the Electronic Workflow and Control Department from the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure. “This project is of key importance to the Ministry and its cooperation with civil society as well.”

With the applicability of CCS to the Ukrainian context in mind, the webinar participants showed interest in learning more about the details of the system, including the overarching legal framework, performance evaluation methods, and various aspects of implementing One-PMIS such as system maintenance methods, scope of information disclosure, resolution of claims and disputes, and management of construction delays.

Going beyond the technicalities of the system, however, the discussion also touched upon broader governance issues. For instance, SMG highlighted the supreme importance of a strong political will to build and enforce a one-PMIS-like system, as well as the necessity of institutionalizing a cross-sector management approach within the Government—for instance by putting data managers, engineers, and policy specialists in one single department to work together on system building, upgrades and management from a user perspective.

Explaining how Seoul managed to successfully implement CCS even without a law, by means of continuous advocacy, training and demonstration of the practical value of the system among users, USPC’s Policy Specialist Ms. Ahjung Lee also emphasized the value of exploring such a practical approach to introducing initiatives, rather than taking a legislation-first approach which may delay reform processes. 

Building upon the information and insights shared through the webinar, USPC will undertake a joint technical mission to Ukraine with the Seoul Government representatives, and facilitate various workshops and bilateral meetings with key Government institutions and UNDP partners in Ukraine working on open data and construction sector management reforms.     

This series of work with Ukraine is part of USPC’s Development Solutions Partnership (DSP) on Open Data and Public Construction Management for efficiency, transparency and integrity in the public construction sector initiated in 2014.

The webinar marked the first follow-up support to Ukraine since the country’s participation in the International Training Workshop on Public Construction Transparency, co-organized by USPC and SMG on 2-4 December 2015 in Seoul. Based on demand for sustained partnerships and support from the participants of the December workshop, USPC had released a Call for Expressions of Interests (EoIs) earlier this year to solicit country proposals for the selection of five partner countries to receive advisory and technical support, combined with seed funding. Ukraine was selected as a partner country through a competitive selection process, along with Vietnam, Thailand, Uganda and Jordan.