Bucharest, Romania – 26 high school students, 14 hours of programming in 2 days, 5 ambitious online platforms aimed at improving government transparency and accountability. This describes the event that took place this past weekend (23/24 February 2013) at the headquarters of the Romanian Government, in Victoria Palace. Some of Romania’s best and brightest were invited by Prime Minister Victor Ponta to take part in the first hackathon hosted by a public institution in Romania. The 16-18 years old participants developed web prototypes for five ideas promoted by the newly established Department for Online Services and Design within the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, namely:
- angajati.gov.ro (angajati = staff): including the names and positions of all the dignitaries, civil servants and other staff in the central and local government;
- buget.gov.ro (buget = budget): presenting the national budget in a friendly and comprehensive manner using OpenSpending and other similar resources;
- date.gov.ro (date = data): main hub for all the datasets of the public institutions that are open to the public, founded on the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration;
- petitii.gov.ro (petitii = petitions): empowers citizens to get involved in the decision-making process by informing the Government on what the main concerns and issues are and by thus obliging it to issue an official response;
- posturi.gov.ro (posturi = jobs): promoting transparency in the recruitment process for civil service and other staff in the central and local administration in order to prevent cases of favoritism and nepotism.
Apart from these, the youth suggested the creation of mobile apps for the five projects and a special team took on the challenge of putting everything on iOS, Android and Windows Phone friendly versions.
While the websites are still under development, the entire experience of the event is in itself worth sharing. For the first time in history, a hackathon was hosted by a public institution in Romania, namely the central Government, with the support of the Prime Minister. This sets an example meant to encourage the civil service to seek alternative methods for interacting with citizens and raising accountability. The Department for Online Services and Design (DOSD) was founded earlier this month under the coordination of the Prime Minister’s Office in order to lead the Romanian government’s transformation towards the digital age. Amongst others, the DOSD will monitor the implementation of the national e-government programs, as well as the Open Government Partnership so we look forward to any feedback on moving things forward. Take a look at the photos from the hacking on the official Government of Romania Facebook page. A trailer for the event can be viewed below. This is also available on YouTube.