Evaluation of Georgia state website

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Georgia.gov is the website for the state of Georgia.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB
Budget
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Usability
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Ethics
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying N
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Public records P
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Taxes
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State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on January 15, 2012.

The good

  • The site has a search function and is fairly easy to navigate.
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[1]
  • Administrative officials are listed with contact information within agency pages,[2] and a state directory is posted.[3]
  • Budgets are posted.[4]
  • Audits are posted.[5]
  • Tax information is available.[6][7]
  • Ethics information is posted,[8] along with lobbyist reports.[9]
  • Statewide[10] and agency contracts are available.[11] Bid opportunities are also accessible to vendors.[12]
  • Basic information is provided on public records requests, but forms and contacts for doing so must be found within each agency's website.[13][14]

The bad

  • No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.
  • Information on how to submit public records requests must be found within each department, and some departments do not seem to have that information available.[15]

U.S. PIRG Rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "C+" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 79 out of 100.[16]

The scorecard that U.S. PIRG uses has 13 items and focuses on a separate state website that is searchable at the checkbook level. Sunshine Review, on the other hand, focuses on the availability of separate spending-related items; they do not need to be in a central database.

Item Possible points Notes
Checkbook-level website 30 Detailed expenditure information, including individual payments made to vendors.
Search by vendor 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by contractor or vendor name.
Search by keyword of activity 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by type of service or item purchased, category, or government fund.
Search by agency or departments 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by branch of government.
Contract or summary information 10 A copy of the contract or detailed summary information is included for the expenditures.
Historical expenditures 5 Checkbook-level expenditure data from previous fiscal years.
Grants and economic development incentives information 10 Awardee-specific grants and/or economic development incentives are included in the checkbook tool or elsewhere with specific award amounts.
Downloadable 3 Information can be downloaded for data analysis.
Tax expenditure reports 10 The state's tax expenditure report is linked on the website.
Off-budget agencies 2 Expenditures from quasi-public agencies are included on the website.
City and county budgets 2 Financial information for some local governments is accessible.
ARRA Funding 2 A link is provided to the state's website that tracks funding related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Feedback 2 Website users are capable and encouraged to give feedback about the site.

There are several similarities between the checklists. For both checklists, the searchability of information factors in to how usability is rated. Both checklists have an item relating to contracts, tax information, and the budget. The U.S. PIRG requires information for quasi public entities; Sunshine Review requires information on lobbying, which includes quasi public entities' lobbying activity.

Unlike the Sunshine Review checklist with each check worth one point, different items on the U.S. PIRG checklist merit more or fewer points, depending on the item.

State Integrity Investigation

The 2012 State Integrity Investigation graded state ethics laws according to an "Integrity Index." The index was created by researching 330 "Integrity Indicators" across 14 categories of state government. The report assigned grades based on what laws are on the books, and whether or not they were effectively enforced. The report was a project of The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.[17]

Georgia received an overall grade of F, or 50%. It ranked 50 out of the 50 states.[18]

Category Grade
Public Access to Information F
Political Financing F
Executive Accountability D-
Legislative Accountability F
Judicial Accountability C-
State Budget Processes D
State Civil Service Management F
Procurement D
Internal Auditing B
Lobbying Disclosure F
State Pension Fund Management F
Ethics Enforcement Agencies F
State Insurance Commissions F
Redistricting F

Transparency Legislation

On March 16, 2011 the Georgia State Senate passed SB223, the "Georgia Government Accountability Act." "SB 223, if passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law, would create a Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee to review all state agencies and programs. If those state agencies and programs are not providing essential constitutionally-based services, they can be eliminated or privatized by the General Assembly."[19]

Salaries

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Georgia and local governments in the state employed a total of 604,002 people.[20] Of those employees, 498,404 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $1,728,268,497 per month and 105,598 were part-time employees paid $110,993,986 per month.[20] More than 55% of those employees, or 354,531 employees, were in education or higher education.[20]

In December 2010 Gov.-elect Nathan Deal said that the state work force of 104,000 employees was too large, and he believed its size should be reduced.[21]

Georgia, like many states in the South, is a right-to-work state, meaning labor agreements can’t require all workers to join unions or pay dues. Georgia has one of the lowest union membership rates in the nation.[22]

State employees earn 120 hours of sick leave annually and 120 to 168 hours of vacation leave, depending on the length of state service. Employees receive 12 paid holidays per year.[23] Holidays Full time, permanent employees of the State of Georgia receive the following paid vacation days[24]:

  • New Years Day
  • Robert E. Lee's Birthday (actual in January, observed in 2010 on November 26)
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday
  • Washington's Birthday
  • Confederate Memorial Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Pensions

Employee and employer contributions are paid into the retirement fund for the welfare of the members and their beneficiaries. All benefits are paid from this fund. Service retirement requirements are: (1) Age 60 with at least 10 years of creditable service; (2) 25 years of service and be under age 60; or (3) 30 years of service at any age. Various monthly benefit options are available upon retirement.[23] Full-time employees participate in the Employees' Retirement Plan.

Public Records

The Georgia Open Records Act, or Georgia Sunshine Law, is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Georgia.

The Georgia Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: Georgia FOIA procedures.

The Georgia Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Chapter 14, statutes 50.14.1-6 of the Georgia code define the law.

Resources

Resource Run by Includes
Georgia SOS Transparency in Government Initiative State of Georgia Secretary of state budget and ethics information
Open Georgia State of Georgia Spending, salaries, budgets, audits, federal stimulus spending
Stimulus Accountability State of Georgia Federal stimulus spending
Georgia Report Card for Parents Georgia Public Policy Foundation School data
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in State Politics Campaign contributions

External links

References

  1. Georgia.gov, "Elected Officials," accessed January 15, 2012
  2. Georgia.gov, "Agencies," accessed January 15, 2012
  3. Georgia.gov, "State Directory," accessed January 15, 2012
  4. Georgia.gov, "Budget Documents," accessed January 15, 2012
  5. Georgia.gov, "Audit Reports," accessed January 15, 2012
  6. Georgia.gov, "Department of Revenue," accessed January 15, 2012
  7. Georgia.gov, "Individual Taxes," accessed January 15, 2012
  8. Georgia.gov, "Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission," accessed January 15, 2012
  9. Georgia.gov, "Lobbyist Reports," accessed January 15, 2012
  10. Georgia.gov, "Statewide Contracts," accessed January 15, 2012
  11. Georgia.gov, "Agency Contracts," accessed January 15, 2012
  12. Georgia.gov, "Bids & Contracts," accessed January 15, 2012
  13. Georgia.gov, "Open Government," accessed January 15, 2012
  14. Georgia.gov, "Campaign Finance Commission: Request Public Records," accessed January 15, 2012
  15. Georgia.gov, "Department of Administrative Services: Search," accessed January 15, 2012
  16. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  17. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  18. Georgia Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  19. [1]
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 2008 Georgia Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  21. The Atlanta Journal Constitution "Deal: State government workforce too big" Dec. 16, 2010
  22. The Wall Street Journal "Georgia Union Members Rally in Support of Wisconsin Workers" Feb. 23, 2011
  23. 23.0 23.1 Employee Benefits
  24. State Holidays