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As part of Sunshine Week, Arizona Receives "B" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending
Arizona received a “B” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s annual report “Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data.”
“Openbooks.az.gov provides Arizonans and state officials with the ability to monitor state spending in order to save money, prevent corruption, reduce potential abuse of taxpayer dollars, and encourage the achievement of public policy goals,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.
This year’s report recognized more states as leaders than ever before, with all but two states allowing users to search the online checkbook by agency, keyword or vendor, or some combination of the three. Likewise, 44 states now provide checkbook-level data for one or more economic development subsidy programs.
Officials from Arizona and 46 other states provided the researchers with feedback on their initial evaluation of state transparency websites. Based on an inventory of the content and ease-of-use of states' transparency websites, the “Following the Money 2015” report assigns each state a grade of “A” to “F.” Arizona qualifies as an “advancing” state, thanks in part to the inclusion of some detailed data about the state’s largest economic development programs. Users can find checkbook-level detail about the Arizona Competes Fund, including projected and actual public benefits. However, the state hasn’t improved since last year, and so has fallen behind more rapidly advancing states in the overall rankings.
“Open and accessible state budgets are important so that the public can see where its tax dollars are being spent, and hold their state government accountable for its decisions,” said Sunlight Foundation National Policy Manager Emily Shaw. “It's encouraging to see more states prioritizing open data policies and taking the steps necessary to make their data truly accessible.”
State spending transparency appears to be a non-partisan issue. The report compared transparency scores with a variety of measures of state legislative, gubernatorial or public opinion partisanship and found that neither Republican nor Democratic states tended to have higher levels of spending disclosure.
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