Connecting state and local government leaders

New Study Grades State Government Spending Websites

The Rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus

The Rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Ohio and West Virginia were among the states that fared well in the rankings.

States have made progress providing online information about spending in recent years. But there's still room for improvement.

That's according to an evaluation of state transparency websites that the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and Frontier Group released on Wednesday. It's the eighth evaluation of its kind. The report grades spending websites for all 50 states on an A to F scale based on factors like available content and user-friendliness.

Each state now has at least a basic, public-facing website with information about expenditures, the report notes. But it also says that some sites are falling short when it comes to features like search tools, expenditure descriptions and providing comprehensive data.

The report points out that, in 2010, 14 states did not have any kind of government spending transparency website at all. 

Top-ranked states in terms of providing online access to spending data include:

State Grade Score Rank
Ohio A+ 98 1 (tie)
West Virginia A+ 98 1 (tie)
Minnesota A 94 3 (tie)
Wisconsin A 94 3 (tie)
Arizona A- 93 5 (tie)
Connecticut A- 93 5 (tie)

The lowest ranked states include:

State Grade Score Rank
Wyoming F 35 50
Alaska F 46 49
California F 47 48
Hawaii F 48 47
Tennessee D- 54 46

One part of the effort to grade state spending websites involved a "real world" test, where 27 professional and amateur researchers in focus groups looked for six specific expenditures and gave feedback on how easy or difficult the information was to find and understand.

A full copy of the report with the complete 50-state rankings can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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