All Politics is Local

Washington among top 5 "Sunshine" states

One of the mavens’ favorite national nonprofit organizations, the Sunshine Review, has released its 2013 Transparency Report Card.

Washington ranks among the top 5 performing states when it comes to open government, along with California, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The worst-performing states? Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Grades are based on what type of information people can find on government websites, such as budgets, contracts, audits, meeting minutes and agendas and contact information for key officials and staff members.

In Washington, state websites received an A-plus, city websites were given a B, county websites were given a B-minus and school districts were given a C-plus.

The state’s final grade was a B-plus, good enough for second place.

The valedictorian, so to speak, was California.

Report card highlights, from the Sunshine Review:

“State websites outperformed local websites with 26 percent scoring in the “A” range, and 60 percent scoring a “B” or above.”

“Whereas 28 percent of counties scored a “B” or above and 44 percent of cities scoring a “B” or above.”

“School districts had the most dismal grades with only 20 percent of school districts scoring a “B” or above.”

“A larger majority of states failed to receive “A” because of their failure to proactively disclosing lobbying data, disclosing how to attain public records and ease-of-use for tracking down data.”

One final highlight: Washington, along with Arizona and Massachusetts, were the only three states that “fully complied with Sunshine Review’s lobbying requirements, including disclosure of state funded lobbying activity, agency lobbying and of a database of registered lobbyists.”

Stephanie Rice

I have worked at The Columbian since 1996. I covered the criminal justice system for 10 years and currently cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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