Evaluation of Kentucky state website

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

Website evaluation

Budget P
Usability P
Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Contracts P
Lobbying P
Public records P
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on January 15, 2012.

The good

  • The state has a transparency website, which has useful links.[1]
  • Audits are posted.[2]
  • Budgets are posted.
  • Tax information is available.[3]
  • Ethics information is posted[4] and lobbyists are listed.[5]
  • Information is available on the Kentucky Open Records Act.[6]
  • An agency list is posted.[7]
  • A state employee directory is posted.[8]
  • Legislators are listed with contact information.[9]
  • Bid opportunities are posted.[10]

The bad

  • The site has a search function, but it is somewhat difficult to navigate.
  • Only one year's budget appears to be posted,[11] and none are available on the state's Budget Department page.[12]
  • Forms and contacts are not provided for public records requests.
  • Current state contracts do not appear to be available.
  • No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website an "A" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 96 out of 100.[13]

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.[14]

Kentucky received an overall grade of C-, or 71%. It ranked 18 out of the 50 states.[15]

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

Transparency Legislation


Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Secretary of State State Online Checkbook 2011 https://web.archive.org/web/2/http://sos.ky.gov/secdesk/initiatives/transparency/
Kentucky at Work State Tracks federal stimulus funds 2011 http://kentuckyatwork.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx
OpenDoor State Audits, investments, tax incentives, election finance, spending, contracts, salary 2011 http://opendoor.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=KY


State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Kentucky and local governments in the state employed a total of 279,962 people.[16] Of those employees, 225,289 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $738,430,416 per month and 54,673 were part-time employees paid $52,994,423 per month.[16] Nearly 62% of those employees, or 173,545 employees, were in education or higher education.[16]

Commonwealth Employee Benefits

The Commonwealth of Kentucky offers many benefits to its employees.


Health Health insurance is available only to full-time employees.[17] Coverage effective on the first day of the second month of employment.[17] The Commonwealth pays a fixed amount and the employee pays for additional options.[17]

Life The Commonwealth provides employees with $20,000 of life insurance at no cost to the employee.[17] Optional life insurance is available for purchase by the employee.[17]

Other Benefits

  • Flexible Spending Account - A healthcare FSA is pre-tax money you set aside, through payroll deductions, to use for certain expenses not reimbursed by your health insurance plan. A dependent care FSA is a pre-tax benefit to use for childcare services such as daycare or adult care.
  • Health Reimbursement Account - If an employee elects to waive health insurance coverage, he/she will receive an employer contribution amount of $175 per month, for a total contribution of $2100, which will be deposited into a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). An HRA is a federally qualified expense account that consists of funds set aside by employers to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses such as doctor’s office visits, x-rays, and prescriptions.

Annual Leave Full time employees can earn annual leave, part-time and interim employees do not earn annual leave (also known as vacation leave).[18] The amount of annual leave earned increases by years of service. For the first five years, employees earn between 7.5 and 8.0 hours of leave per month, for 12 days earned per year.[18] The employees can carry over at least 30 days of leave per year, with the amount that can be carried over increasing on years of service.[18]

Sick Leave Employees earn between 7.5 and 8.0 hours per month, assuming they meet work hour requirements to be eligible for leave accrual. There is no limit on accumulation. After 10 years of service an employee receives 10 bonus days and after 20 years of service, the employee earns an additional 10 bonus days.[17]

Vacation Commonwealth employees receive 11 1/2 vacation days per year.[19]

  • New Year's
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday
  • Good Friday (1/2 Day)
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • The Day After Thanksgiving
  • The Day before Christmas
  • Christmas
  • The Day before New Years Eve

Other Leave

  • Military
  • Jury duty
  • Voting
  • Blood Donation


Kentucky has six public pension systems. State employees in non-hazardous positions join the Kentucky Employee Retirement System (KERS) program.[17] There is the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System and also has a specialized funds for county employees.

The Commonwealth contributes to the employees' account at the rate determined by the Board of Trustees, which is currently 11.61% of the employee's salary.[17] The employee provides 5.00% of his or her salary.[17] New members also pay a 1% contribution for health insurance to bring their total contribution to 6%.[17]

Kentucky lawmakers in 2010 voted to raise the contribution of public-school workers toward retiree health care from 1% to 3.75% over the next six years, with state employers will also contribute more.[20] The cost of pensions for employees hired after 2008 is just 1.1% of total pay because of changes made in the pension reform law, compared to 4.26% of pay for retirees and employees hired before 2008.[21]

In 2000, the state's plans were well funded at 110%, but the state underfunded its actuarially required contribution, benefits increased and the cost of living adjustments climbed.[22] As of 2008, the systems funding level declined to 63.8%, and a total liability of $34 billion. The state's unfunded liability was 234% of payroll.[22] A recent study by economists Joshua Rauh of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business concluded that the Kentucky pension fund will run out of money in 2020.[23] Should the pension fund run out of money then, the cost the following year would be $5.3 billion, which would be 35% of state revenue.[24]


The KERS system covers 84,000 workers and retirees.[21] The KERS system has three separate underneath its umbrella and KERS is governed by a nine member Board of Trustees.[25]

The non-hazardous duty system has approximately 40% of the needed assets to cover benefits, and by 2017 that figure will decline to 16%.[21] The state's hazardous-duty fund has 75% of the needed assets and the State Police Retirement System has 55% of the needed assets.[21]

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence found that the KERS system faces one of the most difficult funding situations in the country.[21] The problems stems from lawmakers not making full contributions from 2004 on, increased benefits instituted in the 1990s and poor investment returns.[21]

Kentucky Retirement Systems

The Kentucky Retirement Systems administers both the County Employees Retirement System's nonhazardous and hazardous pension funds.[21] Those funds have 72%and 68%, respectively, of the assets needed to cover benefits.[21] Cities and counties are not been permitted to make less than the recommended contribution, unlike the state.[21]

The average monthly benefit is $2,105, according to the latest KRS annual report.[21]

Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System

The Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System has less than 68% of the assets needed to pay benefits, although a reform bill passed by the 2010 General Assembly is expected to help remedy the situation.[21]


Employees hired prior to September 2008 can retire at any age after 27 years of service.[21][26]

Calculation of Benefits

The Kentucky legislature passed a series of reforms to the pension benefits of new employees in 2008.[22] Salaries are now calculated passed on the final five years of pay, as opposed to the previous method of using the highest five years of pay.[22] The legislature also implemented a graduated tier system for new employees that establishes a sliding scale of multipliers for calculating benefits, starting at 1.1% after 10 years of service to 2% for 30 or more years.[22]

Funding Levels

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[27], the American Enterprise Institute[28] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[29]

In Thousands
'PEW '(2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$12,328,429 $47,016,382 $42,300,000

Public Records

The Kentucky Open Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Kentucky, so that citizens have some idea of what is happening with their government. Statutes KRS 61.870 to 61.884 define the law.

The Kentucky 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: Kentucky FOIA procedures.

External links


  1. Kentucky.gov, "OpenDoor," accessed January 15, 2012
  2. Kentucky.gov, "Financial Documents," accessed January 15, 2012
  3. Kentucky.gov, "Taxes," accessed January 15, 2012
  4. Kentucky.gov, "Ethics," accessed January 15, 2012
  5. Kentucky.gov, "Lobbyist Listings," accessed January 15, 2012
  6. Kentucky.gov, "Open Records," accessed January 15, 2012
  7. Kentucky.gov, "Agency List," accessed January 15, 2012 (dead link)
  8. Kentucky.gov, "Phone Directory," accessed January 15, 2012
  9. Kentucky.gov, "Legislature," accessed January 15, 2012
  10. Kentucky.gov, "Procurement Services," accessed January 15, 2012 (dead link)
  11. Kentucky.gov, "Executive Budget," accessed January 15, 2012
  12. Kentucky.gov, "Division of Budget and Planning," accessed January 15, 2012 (dead link)
  13. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  14. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  15. Kentucky Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 2008 Kentucky Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 17.8 17.9 Employee Benefits Schedule
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Annual Leave
  19. state holidays
  20. The Wall Street Journal "States Press Workers on Healthcare" Aug. 27, 2010
  21. 21.00 21.01 21.02 21.03 21.04 21.05 21.06 21.07 21.08 21.09 21.10 21.11 The Louisville Courier-Journal "Key Kentucky state worker pension fund in distress" Aug. 29, 2010
  22. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trillion
  23. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  24. Yahoo! Finance “11 state Pension Funds That May Run Out of Money Oct. 18, 2010
  25. Informational Handbook for Hazardous Duty Employees
  26. KTRS Eligibility
  27. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States," accessed January 4, 2011
  28. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  29. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)