Building Integrity and Transparency at the Local Level
Municipal Integrity Model increases government transparency in El Salvador
Tetra Tech has been working in El Salvador since 2016, implementing the USAID Government Integrity Project (Proyecto Pro-Integridad Pública) to improve transparency and accountability in key government institutions. USAID recently signed memoranda of understanding with 11 municipalities that have demonstrated the political will to implement institutional changes to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in their communities. As part of this effort, Tetra Tech’s USAID Government Integrity Project has helped develop a Municipal Integrity Model (MIM) to transform the culture of municipal institutions.
The MIM, which is initially being adopted in five municipalities, seeks to create a new organizational culture based on consistent ethical standards and institutional procedures to reduce the risk of corruption. The methodology aims to establish an atmosphere of trust, ownership, and accountability through the institution itself conducting an internal analysis of its ethical conditions and by involving the entire work force of the institution in detailed plans to increase transparency.
Tetra Tech initially developed the award-winning institutional integrity methodology for national-level institutions, and has assisted with its successful implementation in a number of countries in Central and South America. Under the leadership of Tetra Tech’s Chief of Party (COP) Paola Barragán in El Salvador, the USAID Government Integrity Project team has adapted this methodology to the municipal context. Each participating municipality establishes a Municipal Integrity Commission, which typically consists of two members of the municipal council, an information officer, an ethics commission representative, an accountability officer, and a community leader. “The commissions are made up of the right people who know the issues and who can make decisions,” explained Daysi Valle, Public Information Officer from Cojutepeque.
Each commission conducts a structured self-evaluation that collects information on institutional conditions in five categories: transparency, accountability, citizen participation, ethics , and public efficiency. Although in some municipalities the results have shown that there is substantial work to be done, municipal participants have received the findings with great enthusiasm. “Working within this framework allows for greater openness and social control in public affairs, and has allowed us to have a comprehensive … approach to [improving transparency] in the municipality,” explained Daniel Escobar, Public Information Officer from Santo Tomás. “I have observed a real energy among municipal officials to become change agents in their communities, which is really heartening,” adds COP Barragán.
Working with the USAID Government Integrity Project, the municipalities are using the results of the self-evaluations to develop specific improvement plans to improve transparency and integrity. This process will build local capacity with the expectation that after one year each municipality will be able to institutionalize the MIM and carry out its own periodic self-assessments. “We are explaining how to apply the methodology to improve … accountability,” said Juan Flamenco, Land Use Registry Chief for the Zaragoza municipality. “Transparency is a big challenge, but our will is greater,” added Daniel Escobar.