Taxpayer Safeguards

ARIZONA EARNS HIGH MARKS FOR TRANSPARENCY—Over the past few years, Arizona has gone from earning an “F” to earning an “B“ for government spending transparency, yet there is still room for improvement.

ARIZONA AT HEAD OF REPORTING SPENDING

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, and promotes fiscal responsibility.

In 2010, Arizona’s Department of Administration created a new transparency website called OpenBooks.az.gov. This website allows residents to monitor most state expenditures at the checkbook level.

The state can still do more to shine light on its expenditures. While the website tracks some subsidies in the form of grants and tax credits — and in some cases shows the number of jobs and investments that companies are expected to deliver — many subsidy programs lack this detail and no information is provided on the amount of tax credits given to individual companies.

Arizona decision makers should require comprehensive information on economic subsidies is added to this website.

TRANSPARENCY 2.0 STANDARDS

Today, you can go online to track packages in the mail, check your cell phone minutes, and compare real estate prices nationwide. Yet government spending continues to be analog. What we're calling Transparency 2.0 is a new standard of comprehensive, online one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

The following are the Transparency 2.0 standards for comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility:

Comprehensive: A user-friendly Web portal provides residents the ability to search detailed information about government contracts, spending, subsidies, and tax expenditures for all government entities.

One-Stop: Residents can search all government expenditures on a single website.

One-Click Searchable: Residents can search data with a single query or browse common-sense categories. Residents can sort data on government spending by recipient, amount, legislative district, granting agency, purpose, or keyword. Residents can also download data to conduct detailed off-line analyses.

Issue updates

Media Hit | Budget

Yuma Sun: Transparency necessary for good governing

Last week, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) gave our state government an A-minus for providing online access to spending data. PIRG, which bills itself as a consumer protection group, surveyed 47 states regarding their financial openness and said Arizona was a leader in the nation.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Arizona Ranks Near Top of States for Transparency of Government Spending

Arizona continues to be a leading state in government spending transparency, according to an annual report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. For the second year in a row, Arizona received an A– in the report based on its official state transparency website, OpenBooks.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2012

This report is the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s third annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0”—a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. The past year has seen continued progress, with new states providing online access to government spending information and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens’ access to spending information and engagement with government.

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Media Hit | Budget

Arizona Republic: Arizona receives top grade for online transparency about state spending

Arizona is one of seven states to receive a top grade for providing online information about government spending. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund graded Arizona an A- for its OpenBooks website, maintained by the state Department of Administration.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Watchdog Group Gives Some Praise, Suggestions for Transparency in Commerce Authority

One year after Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation officially creating the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund examined the transparency and accountability of the Commerce Authority thus far.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Arizona Receives Mediocre Grade for Enforcement of Job-Creation Measures in Subsidy Programs

Arizona received a ‘C’ grade in a new report that examined how well states enforced their own requirements for job creation in their major economic development subsidy programs.

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Media Hit | Budget

Cronkite News Service: Public interest group: Outsourcing traffic cameras has pitfalls

Arizona communities should put public safety ahead of profits when deciding whether to install traffic cameras through private companies, a public interest group contends in a new report.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Problems Identified with Growing Trend of Red-Light and Speed Cameras

A new report released today by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund outlines problems with the growing trend among cities in Arizona and across the country to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

New Report Shows Problems with Widely Used Local Economic Development Tool

New research released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to borrow against future growth and divert tax revenues as a way to attract economic development.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Accountability, Transparency Urged for the Arizona Commerce Authority

At the September 27, 2011 meeting of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Americans for Prosperity called on the new entity to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers.

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Pages

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Transparency 2.0

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund reviewed how current Arizona policy compares to best practices among Transparency 2.0 states that have upgraded their budget transparency systems. This report makes the case that Arizona must seize the opportunity to become a leader of the nationwide movement of state governments enhancing budget transparency in order to increase efficiency, accountability, and public trust.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

In a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, Arizona received an “A-” for its government spending transparency website. Arizona tied for 5th among the states in providing online access to government spending data.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

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.

News Release | Arizona PIRG

A new report found that all but four states now post at least partial information online showing which companies are receiving economic development subsidies, but the quality and depth of that disclosure varies widely. Arizona ranked 32nd in its performance for disclosing key outcomes of economic development subsidies.

 

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Arizona received a ‘B’ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to the fourth annual report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data. Arizona’s official state transparency website, OpenBooks, received an ‘A-’ in last year’s report.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

This report, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s fourth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states are closer than ever before to meeting the standards of “Transparency 2.0” – encompassing, one-stop, one-click checkbook transparency and accountability. However, many states, including Arizona, still have a long way to go to provide taxpayers with the information they need to ensure that government is spending their money effectively.

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