Washington state near top of the class with “B” for gov’t spending transparency


Washington received an above average grade on government spending transparency according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” an annual report released Tuesday by the WashPIRG Foundation.

The state bumped its grade up to a “B” from the “B-” it received last year.

To evaluate the state’s openness, officials evaluated government websites, judging both the content and how user friendly they were for online users.

Washington state didn’t score very well, however, when it came to checkbook-level reporting for some of the state’s largest subsidy programs. This, in spite of the Washington State Legislature approval of about $9 billion in tax breaks for Boeing in 2013.

“We don’t actually know whether our subsidy dollars are living up to the hype,” said Chris Esh with WashPIRG.

Fiscal.wa.gov lacks some downloadable reports that other states provide and doesn’t show projected public benefits.

“Having access to both projected versus actual public benefits is seen as an important standard in order to measure the effectiveness of subsidies programs,” according to  the news release from WashPIRG.

The states with the most transparent websites include our neighbor to the south, Oregon, which received an A- and ranked second overall in openness and Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and Wisconsin. Those at the bottom of the class, with the worst grades, are Alaska, California and Idaho.


Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

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