Maria Isabel Patiño recounts her experiences as director of the Urban Development Institute in Bogotá, Colombia. She recalls some of the technical, legal, and political issues surrounding the implementation of the Transmilenio system. She highlights problems the city had with the administration of public resources and strategies for overcoming them. She details the process for designing and completing major infrastructure projects with an emphasis on the system of contracting. There was also a clause that imposed stiff penalties if a contractor failed to fulfill its responsibilities. Patiño describes the loan structure and how road construction helped strengthen relations between the local and national governments. She discusses some of the difficulties in establishing a good working relationship with the City Council in order to put in place valorization contributions. She describes how the institute designed a methodology to allocate scarce resources for the repair of local roads. She also talks about the challenges of communicating distribution policies to the public and stresses the importance of involving people and explaining decisions in non-technical ways. She describes how the institute used universities as impartial arbiters for conflict resolution. According to Patiño, Bogotá was equipped to institute the reforms it did because of its independence from the national government.
Case Study: Conjuring and Consolidating a Turnaround: Government in Bogotá, 1992-2003
At the time of this interview, Maria Isabel Patiño was the senior executive director for Corporación Visionarios por Colombia, a nonprofit public-policy organization, where she was engaged in civic advocacy, education projects, urban mobility, transportation and public services. Between 2001 and 2003, she served as the director of the Urban Development Institute, the public entity that builds and maintains the mobility infrastructure in Bogotá. Previously, she was executive president of the Colombian flower exporters' association and of the banana growers association. She was also the former executive committee coordinator for the United Nations' Alexander Humboldt Institute bio-trade project promoting sustainable agricultural production.