Seoul Metropolitan and Thai Government discuss open data in the construction sector to fight corruption

Jul 12, 2016

The UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC) and the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) of the Republic of Korea, in partnership with the UNDP Thailand Country Office , the Comptroller General’s Department (CGD) of Thailand and the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT), undertook a joint technical mission to Bangkok, Thailand on 11-12 July 2016 to facilitate a workshop with key Government institutions and UNDP partners in the country working on open data and construction sector management reforms.

The workshop shared with Thailand the experiences and lessons learnt from SMG’s Clean Construction System (CCS) for efficient public administration and transparency in construction management with some 140 Thai government officials and key stakeholders, including Mr. Manas Hamveha, the Director General of the Comptroller General’s Department (CGD), Tortrakul Yomnak, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Office Committee on Anti-Corruption, and Mr Luc Stevens, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand.

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.

Presentations by representatives of Seoul and USPC 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 Information Disclosure System (“Allimi”). 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.

In addition to the technical sharing of CCS, the delegation from Seoul shared the overall lessons learnt from Korea and the policy recommendations for enhancing transparency in the public construction sector. Knowledge sharing was further reinforced and localized by ensuring advance distribution of a comprehensive 70-page Resource Book on CCS, written jointly by USPC and SMG, to all workshop participants.

“What we strive for is effective matchmaking between the ‘demand for good models’ and ‘practical and innovative content’ in public policy. With the support of the Comptroller General’s Department, such a fruitful partnership can become a reality here in Thailand,” said Mr Balazs Horvath, Director of the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre.

Noting how much corruption and social conflict Korea also experienced in the past, USPC’s Policy Specialist Ms. Ahjung Lee explained in her presentation that open data helped build trust among citizens, which in turn helped prevent and reduce social conflict as well as boost socio-economic development. She emphasized that Korea’s experiences demonstrate that open data can be difficult and intimidating at first, but also extremely valuable.

The CGD representatives provided an overview of their work on open data, and a panel consisting of the Chairman of the Committee on Anti-corruption from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Deputy Director of the Electronic Government Agency, the Democratic Governance and Social Advocacy expert from UNDP Thailand, and the Advisor of Fiscal and Financial System Development from CGD discussed the phased development of open data in the construction sector in Thailand. The panel also presented a draft action plan with the concrete next steps envisioned for open data in the near future.

The knowledge shared today can serve as a basis for the adaptation and further development of open data in the construction sector in Thailand,” said Mr. Luc Stevens. “We are only at the very beginning of the reform process. There is a long list of measures that will have to be […] implemented consistently, before we can say that the reform was successful, and before we can start seeing an impact of the work on corruption and integrity in Thailand,” he added.

Thai officials have been working toward open data for public disclosure of construction-related information since they were introduced to Seoul’s system at 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. Thailand was selected as a partner country through a competitive selection process, along with Ukraine, Vietnam, Uganda and Jordan. 

 “Sharing Seoul’s CCS today with Thailand is equivalent to sharing Seoul’s fundamental values and visions for governance. […] As you continue on this important journey of developing open data in your country, I hope that Seoul’s experiences and lessons learnt will provide useful reference points,” said Mr. In-seok Koh, Assistant Mayor of Seoul and Head of the Seoul Metropolitan Infrastructure Headquarters.

The Director General of CGD, Mr. Manas Jamveha, thanked the delegation from Korea and the workshop participants, noting that “it is now more certain than ever that Thailand should also strive for real-time open data. Real-time sharing of construction information will empower citizens and serve as a ‘weapon’ to enhance transparency and accountability. Allimi can be achieved in Thailand as well,” said Mr. Yomnak.  

The advisory mission to Thailand 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 and utilizes a triangular development cooperation modality involving UNDP, Korea, and Thailand, with USPC and UNDP Thailand as a “translator” and facilitator of knowledge sharing and application of Korea’s approaches to public construction management.