Report Card Grades 50 States On Government Transparency

Jan 29, 2013, 09:30 ET from Sunshine Review

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency, released their 2013 Transparency Report Card grading every state and the largest counties, cities and school districts within each state on the availability of information on government websites. Government websites were graded  "A" to "F" measuring available content available against a checklist of information all governments should provide to citizens.


"Transparency empowers citizens," said Michael Barnhart, President of Sunshine Review. "Citizens are entitled to crucial information on how the public business is conducted and how public money is spent. Without this information, voters cannot hold government accountable. Without transparency accountability is impossible." 

Among the findings in the report:

  • State websites outperformed local websites with 26 percent scoring in the "A" range, and 60 percent scoring a "B" or above.
  • Whereas 28 percent of counties scored a "B" or above and 44 percent of cities scoring a "B" or above.
  • School districts had the most dismal grades with only 20 percent of school districts scoring a "B" or above.
  • A larger majority of states failed to receive "A" because of their failure to proactively disclosing lobbying data, disclosing how to attain public records and ease-of-use for tracking down data.
  • The top five best performing states were California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington.
  • The five worst performing states include: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska and South Dakota.

In 2008, Sunshine Review first developed it's 10- Point Transparency Checklist to measure state, county, city and school district websites based on the type of information provided. Grades are granted by editors at Sunshine Review by applying the Checklist to reviewing more than 6,000 government websites for easy to access information on budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes.

"We see exciting progress as citizens and officials recognize the importance of maintaining a transparency website. However, as our report card shows, many state and local municipalities are struggling to provide the information that voters deserve to know," said Barnhart.

To read the report and see a state-by-state analysis with charts click here.  

About Sunshine Review

Sunshine Review is a nonprofit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency. Sunshine Review collaborates with individuals and organizations throughout America in the cause of an informed citizenry and a transparent government. Since its inception in 2008, Sunshine Review has analyzed the websites of all 50 states and more than 6,000 state and local entities.

SOURCE Sunshine Review