Massachusetts Ranks in the Top 8 in the Nation for Transparency
Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending
BOSTON- Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - Massachusetts received an “A-” in government spending transparency according to Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the fifth annual report of its kind by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG).
“We have worked hard to make state government more transparent for taxpayers, and this superb grade from MASSPIRG reflects that,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor. “We have expanded the Commonwealth’s Open Checkbook website to include information on Quasi-Public Authority expenditures and published a report on the Economic Development Incentive Program, detailing jobs retained and created in the state, all in an effort for residents to see just how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Massachusetts came in at the top of the nation with a grade of 91.5, maintaining its A- rating for the third year in a row despite the increasing difficulty of the annual survey as technology improves and consumer expectations rise.
The MASSPIRG report designates Massachusetts as a “Leading State” in progress toward improved online spending transparency describing online spending transparency as “user friendly” and “accessible” allowing ordinary citizens to find information through easy-to-use features.
Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data applauds Massachusetts for increasing transparency by:
- Awarding more than $300,000 in grants to six cities to post their spending information online. In total, Massachusetts plans to help 20 cities post their spending information online by January 2015.
- Posting information on state contracts and bidding opportunities through the state’s checkbook-level procurement website saving the state $3 million by eliminating paper, postage and printing costs associated with information requests by state agencies and paperwork from vendors.
- Improving the state’s transparency website by publishing a report on the Economic Development Incentive Program that provides recipient-specific details on the jobs retained and created.
States were assigned a grade “A” to “F” based on whether their transparency website was comprehensive and searchable through a single website that allows residents to search, sort and download data to conduct a detailed off-line analysis.
“Given that our grading standards rise annually, earning an A- each year means Massachusetts has demonstrated a significant commitment toward transparency and is continually investing in improvements,” said Andrew Fish, Program Associate with the MASSPIRG Education Fund. "Governor Patrick’s commitment to increasing disclosure of the state's finances allows the public to see how their tax dollars are being invested, promoting both efficiency and accountability.”
The report highlights the Patrick Administration’s continued leadership in building a more results-oriented, data driven and publically accountable government. Governor Patrick’s fiscal year 2015 budget, which was published in a program-based manner and added performance data to the state budget for the first time, marked a major milestone in making more information about spending and performance available to the public.
Other important initiatives to increase transparency during the past year included: launching the Informed Massachusetts website which centralizes information on state government spending, revenues and performance; expanding the Commonwealth’s Open Checkbook website to include expenditures by Quasi-Public Authorities; and driving transparency at the municipal level by funding efforts to include local government spending on the state’s Open Checkbook.
To read the full report, visit MASSPIRG online at: www.masspirg.org.