Project description

As a part of the collaborative project ‘Investigate Lava Jato’, Convoca and allied medias of eleven countries from Latin America and Africa we made a special publication ‘Via Sobrecosto’, that includes seven reports ( and an unpublished database of additional millionaire costs of the constructions made by the Brazilian Construction Company Odebrecht ( where this company indicate that paid bribes to civil servants and intermediaries, including to presidents and ministers. ‘Lava Jato’ is the case of corruption most important in the Latin American region in the last times.
With database and reporter work we identify fifty constructions projects made with additional costs for more than 6 billion dollars in relation the initial value between 2001 and 2016. These journalistic findings were published in a differents reports in Spanish and Portuguese and a digital tool.
The database was made using information of documents of contrats of the constructions projects and more than eight thousands documents of the Brazilian and Peruvian justice, request information by the Transparence Law and other sources of the journalists.
In the publication explains that most of these budget increments were by periods, additional contracts and engineering alterations that in different cases are in investigations. These extra operations didn’t go through public contests and they remained in the hands of the Brazilian construction company and their partners through repeated modifications to contracts or special regulations that didn’t comply with the contracting laws.
We also look that these numbers of constructions with big numbers of budgets in Peru, Panama, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Mozambique, thirty of these constructions are investigated by the Public Ministry or the Comptroller’s Office of these countries. It means, 61 percent of the total number. While seven of these constructions, 23 percent are in the payrolls of the Odebrecht Structured Operations Division called as the “Office of bribes” according the analysis of the documents made by the journalists of ‘Investigate Lava Jato’ until June 15th, 2017.
For a search engine the reader can access this verified data about the cost overruns of the constructions made by the company and you can also know the social impact of these additional costs on citizens.
The information published will continue to update in the web application #VíaSobrecosto that is free for our readers to know more about the millionaire increases of the constructions of Odebrecht.
This publication is innovative because it generates new information of great public impact through a collaborative, multidisciplinary work and the use of data and technology without forgetting the traditional work of reporting. The analysis presented in this project can see patterns of irregularities that contribute in an important way to the investigations of the prosecutor’s offices that investigate this case.
Our publications are aimed at journalists, politicians, decision-makers, judicial authorities and citizens interested in knowing about issues related to power and corruption.
This publication was financed with the data of our readers through your crowdfunding campaign # ConBoca100Mil.

What makes this project innovative?

This project is innovative because it’s the product of a collaborative work that has crossed the border. Journalists of investigation from Peru, Brasil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique and Angola reported in coordination to reveal new information about the Lava Jato case with data journalism techniques, digital tools and multimedia products to inform to citizens.

The stories published were the product of the construction of a joint database, verfication, investigative journalism, data analysis and using of technology.

This information is important for publications of other journalists and media and it’s considered in the investigations by the authorities that investigate the issue.
The project demonstrates the importance of developing collaborative work to identify sophisticated patterns and mechanisms of corruption of corporate power and thus empowering journalists to publish their own stories. Our goal was always how to avoid becoming journalists dependent on leaks to tell unique stories. If the 'Lava Jato' prosecutors in Brazil asked their colleagues in other parts of the world for help to deepen their findings, journalists were called to follow these steps and work in a network.
The project is also innovative because the database of works with additional costs was released for citizens who participated in a hackathon with journalists and programmers to develop algorithms and web applications to deal with corruption. Lawyers, economists and former anti-corruption prosecutors participated in this activity (
This project stands out for being collaborative, multidisciplinary and participatory because it involves citizens to use public data and journalistic findings to contribute to transparency and accountability in the face of corruption.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The authorities that investigated the Lava Jato case in Peru, Argentina and other countries considered the findings published by ‘Investiga Lava Jato’ project. In the same way, mass media disiminate our findings and citizens, journalists and developers acceded to information about this case in order to develop newsapp and algorithms about corruption.
The journalists that are in this 'Investigate Lava Jato’ project spread the information each in their respective countries. With the online work, we had a great information thanks to the methodologies of the investigative journalists that participated.
To Investigate the corruption network of Brazilian construction companies, It is neccesary cross-border projects, collaborative, persistent and effective work in terms of evidence and time. "Investigate Lava Jato" has allowed all its members to analyze more than 8 thousand documents, build relevant databases of countries investigated, track offshore companies in tax havens, do dozens of requests for information to the States and interview persons keys of our stories.
In this project we have also placed emphasis on involving journalists from countries where information on Lava Jato is almost non-existent, is null, or there is little willingness on the part of the authorities to investigate these criminal acts as it happens in Venezuela and African countries. This case, without a doubt, shows the complexity of corruption in developing countries, which can only be overcome with the joint work of journalists.
Convoca won the National Prize for Human Rights 2017 for its perseverance in investigating acts of corruption such as the Lava Jato case. Also, we won National Prize for Journalism 2017. Convoca leads the work with databases of the network together with other colleagues from the Latin American.

Source and methodology

‘VíaSobrecosto’ is a result of the collaborative work that participated journalists from Latin America and Africa in this journalistic project 'Investigate Lava Jato’. It’s an special publication of reports and an application developed for the programmers and data analysis of Convoca. In this publication, that has official data of the public institutions and the Odebrecht construction company, the user can follow the money route of the constructions by the Brazilian company in the countries where this company paid millionaires bribe in the last fifteen years.
The methodology was carried out in the following steps:
First place, the journalists searched the information and access to the contracts and official documents of the constructions executed by the Odebrecht company between 2001 and 2016. For this, they presented the requests for access to information making use the transparency law in their countries, the review of the databases of public institutions or official reports of the Executive Branch, Congress or Judicial Branch. In cases where the information wasn’t published, although it should be accessible to citizens, the data was obtained from interviews with official people.
Second, when we got the information, in an Excel shared in Google Drive, the journalists entered the data of the documents and data in the spreadsheet. The updates, comments and queries were made in real time thanks to the advantages of working on an online document. The columns of the data were organized according to the journalistic criteria selected in the team as part of the hypothesis: name of the construction, initial and final budget, increases of the budget, the government that accepted the construction, date of date of execution, approval addendum, investigations and others.
Third, after the construction and coordination in the filling of the data, the Convoca team started a process of cleaning the information (names, among others). It was also to verify that each data included in the spreadsheet had as its support a document or an official source that allowed to check the data. In the process, each journalist talked about the origin of the information. The verified data on the initial and final budget of the works included in the tool were sent to Odebrecht in Sao Paulo, Brazil to contrast the information. Project journalists also searched for the company's version in their countries.
Fourth, a methodology was established for the analysis between journalists from Convoca de Perú, ColombiaCheck de Colombia and Public Plaza from Guatemala. To establish the cost overruns of the constructions in the tool, a simple operation was made: subtract the final and initial budget considering the original currency that appears in the contracts of the constructions. The result was converted in dollars in cases that were necessary to have a single currency that could give us a figure to any reader in the world. For this last operation we considered the exchange rate of the date of the most updated final budget according to the different sources consulted. With the data verified, the data was analyzed in dynamic tables and can find the first findings in the investigation. At the same time, journalists built other databases to deepen their research and tell other stories related to the topic.
Fifth, the final data was transferred to the tool 'VíaSobrecosto', a tool developed for the Convoca programmers which includes a search engine by country, a map, a file for each work and rankings on the main findings. The tool has been created so it can be inserted in the page of the media and organizations that participate in the collaborative project 'Investigate Lava Jato’.
In the end we worked with a universe of 50 works in which budget increases were detected, among other findings.
Besides, we publish seven reports. We made several interviews to verify the information of this database and access to many documents.

Technologies Used

We implemented and built a database with its respective search engine that it was built so that the reader knows the cost overruns of Odebrecht constructions. In addition, the publication had an interactive map.
In route of cost overrun we also works with framework FAT FREE
FRAMEWORK and Google maps, the use of boostrap, jquery bookshop, php
languague and how all our projects have analytics of Google. Each tecnhology used has a purpose to make the things faster and visibly attractive or easy to handle for our audience.

Project members

Project manager: Milagros Salazar.
Analysis and verification of data: Aramis Castro and Milagros Salazar.
Access to data and information requests: Mariana Quilca and Yesenia Vilcapoma (Convoca/Peru), Emilia Delfino (Perfil/Argentina), Ginna Morelo, Felipe Ponde de León, Óscar Agudelo (Colombia), Christian Zurita (Mil Hojas/Ecuador), Raúl Olmos (Mexicanos contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad/México), Daniel Villatoro (Plaza Pública/Guatemala), Lisseth Boon y Jesús Alberto Yajure (Runrunes y El Pitazo/Venezuela), Adérito Caldeira (Verdade/Mozambique), Sol Lauría (Panamá-Iniciativa Regional para el Periodismo de Investigación en las Américas de ICFJ/Connectas), Óscar Libón (Convoca y Acento/República Dominicana).
Web development: Víctor Anaya and Carlos Chávez.
Design, illustrations and video editing: Orlando Tapia.
Social indicators of maps of Peru: Sandro Michelini and Athenas Huayta.



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