Our friends over at The Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity have created an incredible, insightful report dedicated to rating states on their transparency and accountability. It’s the result of a year’s worth of investigation, and the result is a really thorough analysis unveiling important information about which states are plagued by influence loopholes, conflicts of interest, weak open records laws and more.
The investigation examined and assigned a letter grade to 13 areas of government operations. Those include:
* public access to information * political financing * electoral oversight * executive, legislative and judicial accountability * state budget processes * state civil service management * procurement * internal auditing * lobbying disclosure * ethics enforcement agencies * state pension fund management
The sad part of the report is not a single state received an A. Not one. In fact, the highest grade recorded was a C, and a grand total of three states received it: Alaska, California and Connecticut.
Most states received D grades, but 11 states earned an F. Those include: Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wyoming.
“State governments are plagued by conflicts of interests and cozy relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists, while open records and ethics laws are often toothless and laced with exemptions,” CPI and Global Integrity wrote in its release on the information.
The investigation comes at a critical time in state politics. With gridlock in Congress at the federal level, a lot of special interest legislation is moving to the state and local governments where those supporting their efforts feel the atmosphere might be more hospitable to getting laws passed. It’s important that citizens and lawmakers pay attention to areas of concern to ensure transparency and accountability in state government.
Sunlight is doing its part to increase accountability in cities and states across America through the What Works Cities initiative. Read more here about the project and how we’re helping local governments develop sustainable open data practices.