New York received a “B,” or above average, in the nonprofit Sunshine Review’s 2013 Transparency Report Card for all states and the largest counties, cities and school districts within states. The Alexandria, Va.-based organization gave out grades of “A” through “F” based on the availability of information on government websites. The content was measured against a checklist of information the Sunshine Review believes all governments should provide its citizens.
New York was not among the five best performing states (California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington) or the worst performing states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska and South Dakota), according to the report card, which was released today.
New York’s cities also received a “B” for transparency, while counties earned a “B-” and school districts, a “C-,” the report said. In New York and 12 other states where the capital city is not among the five largest, the Sunshine Review evaluated the five largest cities and the capital and calculated an average. In other states, it averaged the grades for the five largest cities.
“Transparency empowers citizens,” Michael Barnhart, president of Sunshine Review, said in a statement. “Citizens are entitled to crucial information on how the public business is conducted and how public money is spent. Without this information, voters cannot hold government accountable. Without transparency accountability is impossible.”
These are some of the other findings in the report:
—Twenty-six percent of state websites scored in the “A” range and 60 percent received grades of “B” or above.
—Twenty-eight percent of counties earned a “B” or higher and 44 percent of cities received a “B” or better.
—Just 20 percent of school districts scored a “B” or above.
—A lot of states didn’t receive an “A” because they didn’t proactively disclose lobbying data, how to obtain public records or make it easy to track down data.
The Sunshine Review launched its 10-point Transparency Checklist in 2008 to evaluate state, county, city and school district websites. Editors evaluate more than 6,000 government websites for easy-to-access information on budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes.