Evaluation of Idaho state website

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

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 N
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying P
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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.
  • A state directory is published.[1]
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[2]
  • Agency and statewide audits are posted.[3][4][5]
  • Budgets are posted.[6]
  • Bid opportunities are posted,[7] along with statewide contracts.[8]
  • Tax information is available.[9]
  • Lobbyist information is posted.[10]
  • Information is posted on how to make public records requests.[11]

The bad

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website an "F" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 6 out of 100.[12]

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 Sunshine Review 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.[13]

Idaho received an overall grade of D-, or 61%. It ranked 40 out of the 50 states.[14]

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

Transparency Legislation

2011

  • By a vote of 6-3, the Idaho House Commerce and Human Resources Committee killed a public records bill that proposed that 114 non-government organizations to comply to the Public Records Law that participate in the state pension system.[15]
  • Rep. Bob Nonini proposed the "The Idaho Healthcare Transparency Act of 2011" which would required health care facilities to post the cost of their twenty-five most common procedures online.[16]

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
OurIdaho Idaho Freedom Foundation Monitoring, tracking and analyzing the spending habits of your schools, highway districts, state and other taxing districts 2010 http://www.ouridaho.com/
Transparency State Tracks federal stimulus funds 2010 http://accountability.idaho.gov/
Tracking the Economic Stimulus Plan IdahoStatesman Tracks federal stimulus funds 2010 http://www.idahostatesman.com/1456
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=ID
AccountableIdaho Idaho Freedom Foundation Contracts, payrolls, taxes, spending http://accountableidaho.com

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Idaho and local governments in the state employed a total of 102,779 people.[17] Of those employees, 71,643 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $249,485,783 per month and 31,136 were part-time employees paid $23,808,761 per month.[17] More than 53% of those employees, or 55,339 employees, were in education or higher education.[17]

A Change in Employee Compensation and Benefits by the Idaho Department of Administration reported that public employee wages were usually behind market jobs, but that public employees received a much larger benefit package. The report recommended a 3 percent increase in public employee pay, merit-based, and a reduction in employee benefits. The plan would cost $34.2 million.[18]

State Employee Benefits

State employees receive many benefits.

Holidays Employees of the State of Idaho who work 20 hours who are expected to work for more than five months receive 11 paid vacation days[19]:

  • New Years Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • President's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Statehood Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Vacation Leave Employees who work 20 hours who are expected to work for more than five months earn vacation leave for every hour worked or paid (with the exception of paid compensatory leave). For example, employees earn vacation leave while on paid vacation or paid sick leave.[20] The rate of accrual depends on the employee's classification and hours of service; the accrual ranges from 0.04615 to 0.09615 of an hour earned for each hour worked.[20] The accrual limit also depends on employee classification and ranges from 192 hours to 336 hours.[20]

Sick Leave Employees who work 20 hours who are expected to work for more than five months earn sick leave at the rate of .04615 hours per hour worked or paid.[21] There is not limit to accrual of sick leave.[21] Sick leave may only be used in cases of the employee’s actual illness or disability or other health reasons necessitating the employee’s absence from work or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) appointments.[21] An employee may also use sick leave to attend to a family member’s medical issues or death and funeral in the family.[21] Eligibility to use sick leave includes self, spouse, child, foster child, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, or the same relation by marriage.[21]

Other Leave Employees are granted paid time off work for other reasons, including:[22]

  • Military Leave
  • Jury Duty
  • Red Cross disaster service volunteers
  • Organ and Bone Marrow Donation

Insurance

An employee of a State department, agency or institution, working 20 hours or more per week, or 84 hours per month, and expected to work at least five months during any consecutive 12-month period, is eligible for insurance benefits.[23]

Eligible employees can enroll themselves and their eligible dependents for medical coverage, and have the choice of a Blue Cross of Idaho Traditional, PPO or High Deductible plan.[23] The plans include vision and dental coverage.[23]

State employees automatically receive basic life insurance for the employee, their spouses, and their unmarried dependent children, age 10 days to 25 years, and the plan also includes an Accidental Death & Dismemberment provision for employees only.[23] Supplemental life insurance is an option available to eligible employees.[23]

Flexible Spending Account Employees may elect how much you want to contribute to a Flesible Spending Account for the coming plan year. Your contributions are deducted from your paychecks on a pre-tax basis and go directly into the FSA of the employee's choice, either for medical expenses or dependent care expenses. Those expenses are then reimbursed from the pretax contributions to the account.[23]

Pensions

The Public Employment Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) manages the funds for the pensions for public employees for the state of Idaho. The system serves over 100,000 individuals from 700 employers across the state.[24]The retirement is funded through three sources: employer contributions, employee contributions, and gains from investment portfolios. Employers pitch in about 10.44 percent of the salary rate paid to each employee, while employees contribute 4.8 percent, for a total of about 16.8 of an employee’s salary rate.[25] Of that 16.8 percent, about 13.9 percent of it is used to fund pensions, while 2.9 percent is used to pay for unfunded liabilities.[25] PERSI currently has $2.55 billion in unfunded liabilities, down from the $3 billion in 2009.[25]

Funding Levels

A July 2010 report by PERSI stated that the fund is worth $11,310,501,701, including the $1.2 billion in earned growth on investments since July 2010. This means the pension is currently funded between 83.5 and 85 percent, leaving about $1 billion in unfunded liabilities for the state.[26] The state has however decided to delay an increase in contribution rates, saving the state $15 million for 2012, but some are concerned that it will weaken the funds.[27] Governor Otter has said that he hopes investments by PERSI will make increases in contribution rates unnecessary.[28]

The state's pension liabilities can be calculated in a variety of ways, which yield different numbers. Below are the numbers as calculated by to the Pew Center on the States[29], the American Enterprise Institute[30] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[31]

In Thousands
PEW AEI Kellogg (2009)
$772,200 $10,022,613 $7,900,000

Public Records

The Idaho Public Records Act governs access to public documents in Idaho. The law was first enacted in 1990.

The Idaho Open Meeting Law 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: Idaho FOIA procedures

External links

References

  1. Idaho.gov, "Directory," accessed January 15, 2012
  2. Idaho.gov, "Elected Officials," accessed January 15, 2012
  3. Idaho.gov, "Audit Summaries," accessed January 15, 2012
  4. Idaho.gov, "Statewide CAFRs," accessed January 15, 2012
  5. Idaho.gov, "Single Audit Report Generator," accessed January 15, 2012
  6. Idaho.gov, "Budget Publications," accessed January 15, 2012
  7. Idaho.gov, "IPRO," accessed January 15, 2012
  8. Idaho.gov, "Statewide Contracts," accessed January 15, 2012
  9. Idaho.gov, "Tax Commission," accessed January 15, 2012
  10. Idaho.gov, "Lobbyist Info," accessed January 15, 2012
  11. Idaho.gov, "Public Records FAQ," accessed January 15, 2012
  12. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  13. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. Idaho Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  15. "Magic Valley Times News" Idaho House panel kills public records bill March 18, 2011
  16. {http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_2cc765af-1fc5-5fc9-be91-32f5ae5def09.html "CDA Press" Posting the cost of health care March 21, 2011]
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 2008 Idaho Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  18. Idaho Reporter, Report says state workers should get pay raise, benefit cuts, Dec. 8, 2010
  19. State Employee Benefits
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 [1]
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Sick Leave
  22. Special Leaves
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 Handbook Summary
  24. PERSI Home Page
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Idaho Reporter, Total unfunded liabilities drop for state’s retirement system, Sept. 28, 2010
  26. Idaho Reporter, Unfunded liabilities continue to drop for state retirement system, Oct. 19, 2010
  27. Idaho Reporter, Retirement board delays rate hike increase saving $15 million for state government, Dec. 7, 2010
  28. Idaho Reporter, Otter hoping investments will solve unfunded liabilities gap for state retirement system, Dec. 14, 2010
  29. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  30. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  31. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)