How Do State Portals Stack Up on Transparency?

Ryan Holeywell

Elected officials love to tout the importance of transparency – but how well do states actually stack up?

The United States Public Interest Research Group released its report on Wednesday ranking how well states provide online access to spending information.

The good news: Transparency is improving. Fourteen states created transparency sites or made big improvements since the organization’s last report on the subject. The bad news: there’s still room for improvement, says Phineas Baxandall, co-author of the report.

Texas and Kentucky got the highest ratings – each earned a 96 out of 100 from the organization. Maine scored the worst, earning a 0. It only provides “checkbook-level” information on government spending to registered vendors.

U.S. PIRG also gave high marks to Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon. Their information is “highly searchable” and provides detailed information on contracts, tax subsidies and grants to businesses, according to the report.

The organization gave “F” ratings to Maine as well as Iowa, Arkansas, West Virginia, Washington, Montana, New Hampshire, Idaho and North Dakota.

“Given the current severity of our budget problems, citizens must be able to follow the money,” Baxandall said in a statement.