El Salvador: Public value

Innovation Areas: HACKATHON
Stage: Early stage

citizen voice and efficient public services

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The problem addressed

In El Salvador, the Law on Access to Public Information and the Alliance for Open Government has been in effect since 2012. Though this has provided opportunities for public management to be more open, governance indicators from the World Bank 2009 - 2012, highlight main deficits in the Rule of Law, control of corruption and government effectiveness. One of the main recommendations is to improve government response to citizens and increase citizen participation, currently at very low levels. According to data from the Government of El Salvador, only 3 out of 100 Salvadorans are actively involved in mechanisms that call for citizen participation. One way to close the gap is to improve the delivery of public services through a co-created proposal between government and civil society that can open new channels of communications and provide new solutions.


The intervention

The aim is to put new technologies at the service of citizens, to give them a voice and promote a more responsive government, one that is accountable to its citizens that will deliver better services.


In collaboration with the Secretariat of Citizen Participation, Transparency and Anticorruption of the Presidency of the Republic, the development of three applications to promote transparency, access to information and accountability were supported. These three applications are the result of the Open Government Hackathon June 2014. The applications are:

GobScore: online feedback mechanism in response to services provided by   government institutions.

Camino a la U (Road to University):  Platform that consolidates and openly shared academic information about careers, study options and access to scholarships of Salvadoran universities.

Infoútil 2.0: application aimed to improve mobile access to the InfoÚtil Portal of the Government of El Salvador, (http://infoutil.gobiernoabierto.gob.sv/) through which users can rank the databases available, ask for databases of interest and voice their concerns to the appropriate authorities.


These applications have been developed by groups of young programmers. The applications were launched in December 2014, and currently their use is being monitored. Likewise, 350 Response Cards were purchased, which will be used to assess in real time public accountability presentations.

The partners

Secretariat of Citizen Participation, Transparency and Anticorruption of the Presidency of the Republic of El Salvador. Key actor to disseminate the initiative and to follow up on the activities. The apps are directly related with their area of work, and so they will use the outcomes of this project to further strengthen their activities.

The programmers that develop the applications are also a partners in this initiative. Additionally, many of them had approached to us to ask if we can support their tech/governance initiative. One of this ideas is to help to close the gender gap in technology and try to build a women platform of programmers in El Salvador. This alliance has provided inputs to develop another initiatives.


3 mobile applications aimed at increasing citizen participation were developed and launched.

120 young programmers were engaged in the ideation and development of these applications.

350 Response Cards were purchased, which will be used to assess in real time public accountability presentations.  By their nature the equipment can be used in other types of activities in which citizen participation and evaluation is required.

The Response Cards were tested in the evaluation workshop of the Open Government Partnership Action Plan, establishing a methodology, which consisted of a facilitator presenting commitments and those indicated by keyboards if they agreed or disagreed. 21 commitments were validated to constitute the new Action Plan. The Secretariat considered that the validation exercise broadened the perspective of their usefulness, not only to strengthen the accountability mechanism but also to boost other mechanisms for citizen participation and transparency. 

Lessons identified

A hackathon is an efficient and fun way to mobilize young people on open innovation. Despite the impression of happy disorganization, their success requires a well-designed process, the mobilization of an efficient organization team, and to make the right choices and preparations. Likewise, a strong relationship with the government, resulted in a high levels of participation.A government hackathon is usually more aligned with government's interests if participants can leverage public. It can be just a small set of data, but their availability during the hackathon brings more focus on inventing meaningful usage with this data.What is delivered in a hackathon is just a working prototype, at best. When everyone gets back to a more normal life after a hackathon, some follow-up is needed in order to keep things moving, so that the interesting ideas incubate. This initiative, then, allowed to take 2 or 3 top ideas designed during the hackathon, and pave the way for their incubation. The incubation process and implementation process takes time, but a good communication strategy to disseminate ideas is necessary to increase the use of the technology.

Contact person

Laura Rivera : laura.rivera@undp.org 

Related materials


El Salvador| ejemplo de innovación en la promoción de la transparencia | Pilar Avello

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