Evaluation of Illinois state website

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

Website evaluation

Budget P
Elected Officials P
Administrative Officials P
Ethics P
Lobbying P
Public records P
Taxes {{{Taxes}}}
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on March 1, 2013.

The good

  • Usability
    • The site has a search function and is relatively easy to navigate.
    • Links provided to state departments and other state websites are consistent.[1]
    • Internal search function is useful.
    • Information is presented in a clear and concise manner, with website written in “plain english” instead of legal jargon.
    • Government accountability page provides quick answers to questions.[2]
  • Administrative Public Officials
    • A state telephone directory is published.[3]
    • A list of state agencies is posted, and contact information is provided within department pages.[4]
    • Contact information for cabinet officials included on each department web page.[5]
    • Salaries for executive department officials is available.[6]
  • Legislative Public Officials
    • Members of the Illinois House are listed with contact information, committee assignments and party affiliation.[7]
    • Members of the Illinois Senate are listed with contact information, committee assignments and party affiliations.[8]
    • Legislators are listed with years of service.
    • Salaries for legislative officials are available.[9]
  • Audits
    • Annual financial audits are posted in PDF format.[10]
    • Audits are archived to 1997, but available in PDF format only to 2006.
    • Taxpayer accountability reports are posted.[11]
    • Performance audits are posted.[12]
  • Budget
    • Current and proposed budgets are posted.[13]
    • Budget briefings are posted.
    • Budgets are archived for at least three years.
    • Budgets can be accessed either as Excel files or PDF files.
    • Unaudited financial reports are posted.
    • Fiscal policy reports and three-year projections are posted.
    • Interfund borrowing is posted.
    • Quarterly financial reports are posted.
    • Information on allocations and reserves are posted.
  • Contracts
    • Bid opportunities are posted.[14]
    • Closed and awarded bids are posted.[15]
    • Archived contract awards are posted.[16]
  • Lobbying
    • A lobbyist directory is posted.[17]
  • Public Records
    • Specific departments post a form and contact information for public records requests.[18]
    • All agency FOIA contacts are listed.[19]
  • Ethics
    • Ethics information is posted.[20]
    • Ethics reports are posted.[21]
  • Compensation
    • Salaries for Illinois state employees is available in one location.[22]

The bad

  • Audits
    • A schedule of audits is not posted.
  • Budget
    • It is unclear if the proposed budget will be posted within seven days of the vote.
    • No evidence that appropriations bills will be posted online at least one week before being voted on.
  • Administrative Public Officials
    • Terms of office are not available for every official.
  • Legislative Public Officials
    • Date of next election for members is not posted.
    • Conflict of interests forms are not online.
  • Lobbying
    • Lobbying database does not specify agency being lobbied or purpose of lobbying.
    • Agency lobbying contracts are not posted online.
    • All grants given to non-profit organizations need to be posted online. The reason for the grant will also be disclosed, along with the contact for organization responsible for oversight.
    • Executive and Legislative lobbying is not recorded.
    • Disclosure of state-paid lobbying activity is not available.
  • Public Records
    • Information on whether or not executive sessions and appropriation meetings are broadcast online and archived is not posted.
    • Needs information regarding public information violations and how to pursue them online.
  • Ethics
    • Process for reporting ethics violation is not available online, or it could not be found in search function.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "B-" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 81 out of 100.[23]

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.[24]

Illinois received an overall grade of C, or 74%. It ranked 10 out of the 50 states.[25]

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

Transparency Legislation


  • The second part of SB3976, the Redistricting Transparency and Public Participation Act, mandates four public hearings to hear from citizens in the existing Congressional districts before redistricting.[26]


Resource Run by Includes Year URL
State Board of Elections State Lobbying and campaign finance 2011 http://www.elections.il.gov/
CyberDriveIllinois State Lobbyist search 2011 http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/index/lobbyist.html (dead link)
Recovery Illinois State Tracks federal stimulus funds 2011 http://www.recovery.illinois.gov/
Office of Management and Budget State Budget info 2011 http://www.state.il.us/budget/
Transparency and Accountability State Employee info, expenditures, corporate accountability, stimulus. 2011 http://accountability.illinois.gov/default.aspx
Open Illinois Illinois Policy Institute Transparency info 2011 http://www.openillinois.org/
For the Good of Illinois For the Good of Illinois Transparency info 2011 http://forthegoodofillinois.org/
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=IL

Sunshine Portal

Illinois launched Sunshine.Illinois.gov to publish state expenditures, grants, public facilities’ inspection reports and more can be searched by citizens.[27]


State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Illinois and local governments in the state employed a total of 790,539 people.[28] Of those employees, 566,872 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $2,491,829,151 per month and 233,667 were part-time employees paid $212,405,146 per month.[28] Sixty percent of those employees, or 450,443 employees, were in education or higher education.[28]

Illinois Governor Quinn signed a bill that will shed sunshine through “Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal,” a piece of transparency legislation that Americans for Prosperity and State Representative Michael Tryon (R – Crystal Lake) spearheaded. The bill, House Bill 35, which created the Illinois Accountability Portal as a law, requiring the Department of Central Management Services to create a transparent website with information regarding state expenditures, tax credits, state employee salaries and state contracts.[29] The only high ranking state official listed on the site is Gov. Quinn; other state employees, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White and legislators are not included.[30]

Teacher salaries

Below is a chart of the top 10 paid teachers in Illinois.[31] Over 14,000 teachers in Illinois make over $100,000 a year.[32]

See the top 100 salaries (dead link)
Salary Subject Name School
$191,124 Physical Ed William Mitz Adlai E Stevenson High School
$189,219 English (9-12) James Liesz East Leyden High School
$187,278 Physical Ed Steven Heuerman Niles West High School
$184,449 Physical Ed Paul Parpet Addison Trail High School
$179,253 Graphic Design Archibald Loch Adlai E Stevenson High School
$177,263 Guidance Counselor David Bene Highland Park High School
$174,656 French Carolyn Dunoon East Leyden High School
$172,164 Physics Michael Wietlispach Hoffman Estates High School
171,595 Drama Susan Rothchild Lake Park High School

There is also a chart comparing teacher salaries to those of university professors:[33]

Subject Illinois High Schools Univ. of Illinois Main Campus
English $189,219 $163,000
French $173,000 $150,000
Physics $172,100 $240,000
Math $169,700 $185,000
Theater $167,500 $102,000
Political Science $166,410 $191,000
Music $165,400 $136,000


Holidays Employees of the State of Illinois receive the following paid vacation days:[34]:

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

Vacation Leave


Health Eligible employees choose to enroll in either an HMO or Open Access Plan.[35] Health insurance includes prescription and behavioral health coverage.[35]

Dental Insurance Employees may opt for dental insurance.[35]


Illinois has five state-funded pension systems,[36] including the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS). The state's unfunded liability is more than three times annual payroll costs.[37]

The pension systems generally get their money from three sources: the state, employees covered by the systems and investment income.[36] TRS also gets money from local school districts.[36]

Illinois has the worst funded pension system in the United States.[38] The Pew Center for the States reported that as of 2008, Illinois is one of the worst states at contributing to its pension systems. If Illinois' elected leaders do not address the state's pension woes, the bulk of the state's budget will have to be used to pay for the pensions rather than go towards education or social programs.[39]

Illinois is facing a crisis with its publicly funded pensions. In 2010 state government was responsible for over $130 billion in pension payments, however they only had $46 billion set aside, which leaves an unfunded liability of about $85 billion.[40]

No Chance of Federal Bailout

In the governor's proposed FY2012 budget, the options for “significant long-term improvements” in its five pension systems included “seeking a federal guarantee of the debt" as well as curtailing public employee retirement benefits, borrowing more and increasing annual state pension contributions were identified as other choices.[41] U.S. Rep Peter Roskam from Illinois said that there was no chance of the federal bailout of the state pension system.[41]

Public Records

  • See also: Illinois sunshine lawsuits]]

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act, or Illinois FOIA, is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Illinois. The law was first enacted in 1984. The latest law was enacted in August 2009 and went into effect on January 1, 2010.

The Illinois 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: Illinois FOIA procedures.

External links


  1. State Agencies
  2. Accountability
  3. State Telephone Directory
  4. State Agencies
  5. Cabinet officials
  6. Payroll
  7. Illinois House
  8. Illinois Senate
  9. Payroll
  10. Financial Audits
  11. Taxpayer Accountability Reports
  12. Performance Audits
  13. Budget
  14. Open Bids
  15. Awarded bids
  16. Archived Awards
  17. Lobbyist information search (dead link)
  18. FOIA
  19. FOIA Contacts
  20. Ethics
  21. Ethics Decisions
  22. Payroll
  23. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  24. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  25. Illinois Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  26. "BallotNews" Illinois governor to sign redistricting bill aimed at protecting minorities, increasing transparency March 7, 2011 (dead link)
  27. Civs Source Online, Illinois launches sunshine portal, March 18, 2010
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 2008 Illinois Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  29. State of Illinois Transparency and Accountability Website
  30. State Journal Register "State worker salary site lacks prominent officials" Aug. 18, 2009
  31. Champion News, 2010 Top 100 Teacher Salaries, Dec, 2010 (dead link)
  32. American Thinker, Let's hear it for the 'working class' teachers of Illinois!, March 14, 2011
  33. Carpe Diem, Highest paid teachers in Illinois: High School vs. College, By Discipline, Dec. 16, 2010
  34. State Holidays
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Benefit Plans - Health
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Chicago Sun Times "Pension funds may sell assets to cover expenses" Aug. 28, 2010
  37. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trillion
  38. 'Bloomberg', Illinois Pension Funding May Weaken Even With Bond Sales, Moody's Says, Dec. 6, 2010
  39. "Rockford Register Star'. Combining Funds a Bandage for System that Needs Surgery, August 14, 2010
  40. Illinois Issues, The Pension Chasm, November 15, 2010
  41. 41.0 41.1 The Chicago Sun-Times "Top U.S. House Republican rejects federal guarantee for Ill. pensions" Feb. 23, 2011