Following the Money 2015
How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data
From US PIRG, March 18, 2015 (excerpts)
Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible.
In recent years, state governments across the country have created transparency websites that provide checkbook-level information on government spending —meaning that users can view the payments made to individual companies as well as details about the goods or services purchased or other public benefits obtained. These websites allow residents and watchdog groups to ensure that taxpayers can see how public dollars are spent.
In 2015, all 50 states operated websites to make information on state expenditures accessible to the public and these web portals continue to improve. For instance, in 2015, all but two states allow users to search the online checkbook by agency, keyword and/or vendor, and 44 states provide checkbook-level data for one or more economic development subsidy programs. Many states are also disclosing new information and are making it easier for outside researchers to download and analyze large datasets about government spending.
This report, our sixth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending. Over the past year, many states have launched new and improved websites to better open the books on public spending, or have adopted new practices to further expand citizens’ access to critical spending information. Some states, however, still have a long way to go....
Hawaii "C" Score = 71 - 7th Worst in USA
Hawaii Website: www.transparency.hawaii.gov/
- Capital Goods Excise Tax Credit: no credit.
- Employment and Training Fund Statewide Training Grants: no credit.
- Enterprise Zones: no credit.
- Film & Digital Media Income Tax Credit (Act 88): no credit.
Middling States (“C” range): Thirteen states (including Hawaii) are Middling in online spending transparency, with generally comprehensive and easy-to-access checkbook-level spending information but more limited information on subsidies or other off-budget expenditures.
The online checkbooks in Middling States cover a wide range of spending. Their basic checkbooks have the same search functionality as those in Leading and Advancing States. Twelve of the states allow users to download all or part of the checkbook data. Eleven of the states provide checkbook-level information on the payments made by some quasi-public agencies.
The information provided on subsidies in Middling States tends to be more limited than the subsidy information provided by Leading and Advancing States. About half of Middling States provide recipient-specific information on only one key subsidy program and two fail to provide any information at all. Only five states—Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, West Virginia and Wyoming— provide recipient-specific information on the projected and actual economic benefits created by some of the subsidy funds under consideration.
Below is a list of the subsidy programs assessed in each state and the criteria that were fulfilled. For descriptions of the criteria see the previous section titled “Criteria Descriptions and Point Allocation for the Scorecard.” (pg 43-47)
LINK ... Read the Report
News Release: NEW REPORT RANKS ALL FIFTY STATES ON GOVERNMENT SPENDING TRANSPARENCY