Tetra Tech is working with the Government of El Salvador and civil society to improve transparency, accountability, and service delivery at the national and municipal level.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) focuses its assistance in El Salvador on programs that enhance prosperity, security, and good governance. Because reducing corruption and increasing citizen participation are key to the achievement of these objectives, Tetra Tech is implementing the USAID Government Integrity Project (GIP) to assist the Government of El Salvador and target municipalities to embrace and comply with transparency reforms, foster ethical behavior, and increase the professionalism of its public servants. Recent reforms to transparency and accountability laws have put citizens’ rights to public information and government oversight front and center. The project supports an emergent and vibrant Salvadoran civil society to improve its capacity to monitor public resources; to demand the free exercise of the right to public information; and to increase the participation of El Salvador’s most vulnerable populations in transparency and accountability initiatives.

Through the GIP, five national-level agencies and 30 municipalities have undergone institutional strengthening, resulting in the implementation of 316 transparency mechanisms at the national and municipal level. These mechanisms include automated case and complaints management systems, transparency web portals, record management procedures and manuals, and process improvement tools—all of which promote transparency, accountability, and citizen participation. At the Public Defender’s Office (PGR), this has resulted in the creation of an Institutional Integrity Unit that uses the Institutional Integrity Model’s™ (IIM), a tool designed to measure an institution’s integrity health, results to formulate the PGR’s integrity measures and ensure that they are implemented.

Through the GIP, Tetra Tech also has trained 1,378 public information officers at the Institute of Access to Public Information (IAIP) to help Salvadorans exercise the rights guaranteed by the Access to Public Information Law. As part of its efforts to strengthen the capacities of anti-corruption institutions, the GIP promoted the formation of the Interinstitutional Working Group (GTIAC by its Spanish initials), a first of its kind inter-agency collaboration among six government agencies in charge of anticorruption actions to design and implement joint activities that strengthen the state’s response to corruption.

Guided by the belief that the right to access to public information is a keystone right that enables Salvadorans to exercise other rights guaranteed by their constitution, the GIP has supported more than 50 citizen oversight and advocacy efforts by civil society organizations, including organizations that work with the most vulnerable members of Salvadoran society. Among the most successful citizen oversight efforts supported by the project is the Advocacy and Legal Advice Center at FUNDE which provides free and confidential legal aid to victims and witnesses to corruption, and which, through its strategic litigation work, has brought before the Government Ethics Tribunal four cases of misappropriation of funds for pandemic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tetra Tech is using its IIM tool, to create a new, ethics-based institutional culture in five national-level institutions and 30 municipalities. By involving the entire institutional workforce of the Government of El Salvador in crafting plans to encourage ethical behavior and increase transparency, these institutions have improved access to information and gained public trust. We have rolled out an automated online system that allows municipalities to measure and track their IIM results, which the GIP has agreed to transfer to the Salvadoran Municipal Development Institute, thus ensuring that the IIM will be used consistently in all of El Salvador’s 262 municipalities and promoting its long-term sustainability.

The Government Integrity Project aims to increase accountability in oversight of public decisions, government actions, and the proper use of public resources by engaging a range of Salvadoran government partners with civil society. Through a grant to the Universidad Dr. Jose Matias Delgado, the project promoted dialogues between government agencies and civil society organizations about transparency and accountability culminating in the Acuerdo de País Contra la Corrupción, which outlined concrete actions that both civil society and government had to take to reduce corruption in El Salvador. By improving agency responsiveness, professionalizing the public service workforce, and building the capacity of civil society, Tetra Tech is helping foster citizen demand for accountability and transparency, while strengthening the government’s ability to satisfy that demand.