Last week the U.S. Public Interest Research Group published a transparency scorecard for every state in the country that assessed their ability to publish their spending online. The scorecard map operates on the belief that there is a new standard for accountability and accessibility, one where spending records are searchable and detailed online.
The ‘Following the Money 2011‘ study [pdf link] classified nine states as “leading states” that published detailed information on grants and economic activities of the government online, even publicizing tax expenditures. Most fell into the “emerging states” category where basic steps were taken to supply residents with less granular information or did not make the data searchable. Finally, the “lagging states” section highlighted the ten least transparent states who did not populate their websites with relevant spending information and Maine doesn’t even allow public access to their data. The study notes that there is no partisan leaning between states that excel or fail to provide citizens with this data.
As the press clamors to champion or chide their governments, we hope the states continue to study up on this subject and improve their standings next year. It also couldn’t hurt to move the goals posts a little farther too – putting your checkbooks online is a pretty obvious homework assignment for this year kids.
Be sure to look up how your state ranks on the Following the Money map and encourage them to continue the work.