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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

North Carolina Access: A Report Card

Good to see state-based evaluations of transparency like this report from North Carolina's John Locke Foundation -- thanks to Mark Tapscott for the heads up...

Seven state agencies earn failing grades, when it comes to making budget and spending information available online. Twenty of 22 agencies studied earned no better than a D-plus grade, according to a new John Locke Foundation Spotlight report.

The report assigns F’s to the departments of Commerce, Correction, Environment and Natural Resources, Insurance, Justice, Transportation, and the State Treasurer. The only state agencies to escape a D or F grade were the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, with a C, and the Department of Public Instruction, C-minus.

Those poor grades are not unique to state agencies. The JLF Transparency Report Card 2008 highlights transparency problems at all levels of North Carolina government, said report co-author Chad Adams, JLF Vice President for Development and director of the Center for Local Innovation. “The average grade for a state agency covered in this report is a D-minus,” he said. “No North Carolina city or school system in this report earns better than a C grade, and no county earns more than a C-minus.”

The report card is designed to spur improvement within state and local governments, Adams said. “This state, home to national banks that update their customers’ accounts instantly anywhere around the world, woefully lags in making spending transparent at every level,” he said. “North Carolina and its local governments need to do more.”

Adams and JLF Fiscal Policy Analyst Joseph Coletti evaluated the Web sites of 22 state agencies, North Carolina’s 10 largest cities, 10 largest counties, and 10 highest-spending school districts. Each earned a letter grade from A to F based on the “degree of difficulty” presented to citizens hoping to find line-item budgets, annual financial reports, and information about government contracts, grants to non-profit groups, and personnel data.

As a group, the cities earned the highest marks with an overall grade of C-minus. Counties earned an average D-plus grade; local school districts, D; and state agencies, D-minus.

The report noted some bright spots. The Department of Public Instruction, Community College system, and University of North Carolina system all earned B grades for presenting school enrollment and graduation rate information. The Clean Water Management Trust Fund earned a B for documenting its grants to nonprofits. The clean water fund, departments of Labor and Revenue, and the Office of State Budget and Management all earned B’s for presenting detailed budget information.

But 10 agencies earned more F’s than passing grades. The departments of Justice and Transportation earned F grades in every category.

More here.

1 comment:

Karen Welsh said...

Aloha Charles,
I would like to interview you on your impressions concerning John Locke Foundation's Transparency Project/Website. You can contact me at writeaway777@hawaii.rr.com
My deadline is July 17, 2009.
Thank you!
Karen Welsh
Contributing Editor
Carolina Journal