Washington scores D+ for transparency, open government

A D+ is an abysmal grade by any measure, but there’s a special sting when that grade is given for government transparency.

But that’s the grade Washington received in the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, coming 12th in the nation.

The Center for Public Integrity, one of the country’s largest nonprofit investigative news organizations, and Global Integrity, which advocates for open governments across the globe, worked with longtime journalists in all fifty states to grade their “existence, effectiveness, and accessibility…of key governance and anti corruption mechanisms.”

Washington’s grades, developed with Kyung M. Song, associate editor of Aerospace America and former longtime reporter at The Seattle Times, are disappointing to say the least. But only three states received a grade higher than a D+, and Oregon received an F overall. Ouch.

Our poorest grade came in the area of public access to information, where we rank 32nd in the nation with an F. Katherine George, a Seattle attorney and member of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, said she was concerned that Washington may be backsliding on its commitment to ensuring citizens’ access to government records and data,” according to the report.

“Washington’s Public Disclosure Act was originally enacted with fewer than a dozen exemptions for disclosures,” the report continued. “The number of exemptions today stands at more than 400, and the total is growing.”

To read the full report, which if you’re not careful will suck you in for a couple hours, visit www.publicintegrity.org.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.

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