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Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Follow the Money? Not so Easy in Hawaii
By News Release @ 4:29 PM :: 7210 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government, Hawaii Statistics, Tax Credits

Following the Money 2018

How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

From USPIRG and Frontier Group, April, 2018

Executive Summary

State governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on everything from employee salaries and office supplies to professional lawyers and subsidies to encourage economic development. Public accountability helps ensure that state funds are spent wisely.

State-operated transparency websites provide checkbook-level detail on government spending, allowing citizens and watchdog groups to view payments made to individual companies, details on purchased goods or services, and benefits obtained in exchange for public subsidies.

All 50 states now operate websites to make information on state expenditures accessible to the public. All but four states provide checkbook-level data for one or more economic development subsidy programs and more than half of states make that subsidy data available for researchers to download and analyze. These websites not only provide citizens with useful information, they are regularly used by citizens; in 2017 alone, at least 1.5 million users viewed over 8.7 million pages on state transparency websites.

Hawaii-Related Excerpts from Report

Bottom 10 States

Hawaii: Grade -- F Score -- 48 Rank – 47

Failing States (“F” range): Four states fail to meet the basic standards of online spending transparency. For example, Wyoming’s checkbook lacks a fully functional search feature, while Hawaii has not posted any spending data for years after 2016.

Table ES-2: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data 

Hawaii Grade -- F Score – 48

Failing “F” States

Table 6. Failing States

State Grade Score Rank
Hawaii F 48 47
California F 47 48
Alaska F 46 49
Wyoming F 35 50

This year, four states receive a failing grade reflecting their failure to follow many of the best practices of online spending transparency. Wyoming’s online checkbook fails to provide a functional search feature, while the most current year of data available on Hawaii’s checkbook is 2016. While the state of California does publish tax expenditure reports, these are not included on the state’s transparency website, making this information more difficult for users to locate than if all state financial data were hosted in one central place.

Weaknesses of Least Usable Websites

Many states’ financial transparency websites are accessible from any browser. However, some states such as Oklahoma have particular browser requirements, and some state sites are prone to frequent error messages and glitches, such as those of Hawaii and New Hampshire.…

State-by-State Scoring Explanations


(1) No points were awarded for the six Real World expenditures as the most recent fiscal year of data available on the checkbook site was 2016.

(2) No points were awarded for a multi-tiered search function as this feature was not operational on either of the two dates the site was evaluated. …

Subsidy programs assessed in each state

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.”


  • Hawaii Enterprise Zone Partnership: no credit
  • Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production Income Tax Credit: no credit
  • Qualified High Technology Businesses: no credit

Website: Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS)

PDF: USPIRG Hawaii Scoring Details (1 page)

read … Full Report

KITV: Transparent Government Spending: Hawaii ranked one of the worst states in the county

CB: Hawaii Gets An ‘F’ For Its Transparency On State Government Spending


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