Evaluation of Louisiana state website

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

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB-
Budget
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Usability P
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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 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 16, 2012.

The good

  • The site has a search function, and most information is accessible through the Agency List, although it may not always be obvious which department to select.[1]
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[2]
  • A state telephone directory is posted.[3]
  • Tracking of federal stimulus dollars in the state is available.[4]
  • State contracts are posted,[5] as well as bid opportunities.[6]
  • Budgets are posted.[7]
  • Audits are posted.[8]
  • The state has a transparency and accountability site.[9]
  • Ethics information is posted.[10] A list of registered lobbyists are posted.[11]
  • Information is available on public records requests.[12]
  • State tax information is provided.[13]

The bad

  • No information is provided on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.
  • Some departments have forms for making public record requests, but there does not seem to be comprehensive information anywhere.

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 92 out of 100.[14]

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.[15]

Louisiana received an overall grade of C-, or 72%. It ranked 15 out of the 50 states.[16]

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

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
LA Trac State-Division of Administration State expenditures, performance, contracts, stimulus, eGrants, boards and commissions, special funds, revenues, and economic incentives 2011 http://wwwprd.doa.louisiana.gov/LaTrac/portal.cfm
Louisiana Ethics Administration Program State Disclosure reports, campaign finance, and lobbying. 2011 http://www.ethics.state.la.us/
Transparent Gov Transparent-gov.com Transparency sources 2011 http://www.transparent-gov.com/Lists/State/WebDispForm.aspx?State=LA
Louisiana Legislative Auditor State State audits 2011 http://app1.lla.state.la.us/PublicReports.nsf
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=LA
Louisiana Sunshine Pelican Institute for Public Policy Spending, payrolls, vendor payments, contracts 2011 http://louisianasunshine.org/

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Louisiana and local governments in the state employed a total of 314,294 people.[17] Of those employees, 262,442 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $890,536,559 and 51,852 were part-time employees paid $44,960,033.[17] More than 62% of those employees, or 163,332 employees, were in education or higher education.[17]

State Employee Benefits

The State of Louisiana offers many benefits to its employees. To be eligible, an employee must work full-time in a permanent position.[18]

Insurance

Health State employees choose from several different health insurance plans, including a PPO, HMO and EPO.[18]

Life The state offers fully-insured life insurance coverage. The state pays half of the life insurance premium for the covered employee and/or retiree.[18] Supplemental insurance is also available.[18]

Holidays Holidays for the State service include:[19]

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Mardi Gras Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Pensions

Louisiana has several different retirement systems, including Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System (LASERS), Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) and School Employees Retirement System(SERS).

The Louisiana legislature increased the contribution for the School Employees Retirement System from 7.5% of salary to 8%. The employment categories that will be grouped in the hazardous duty provisions of LASERS have contribution rates ranging from 8% to 9.5%; all in the future will be at the 9.5% rate. The contribution rate for the Judges’ Plan will increase from 11.5% to 13%. Future members of the State Police retirement system will also contribute 9.5% under Act 992, up from 8.5%.[20][21]

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 Louisiana pension fund will run out of money in 2017.[22] Should the pension fund run out of money then, the cost the following year would be $4.3 billion, which would be 27% of state revenue.[23]

Double dipping

A "loophole" in the pension system is that in many of the systems, employees can retire one day, be retired for a one day, and return to work at full pay and a year later start collecting retirement benefits and salary. This "double dipping" was becoming a drain on pension funds in Louisiana and Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law HB519, to significantly limit the overused "retire-rehire" provision in state law.[24] The law is expected to save the state at least $108 million and school systems $94.2 million a year in five years.[24]

Lawmakers

Louisiana voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1996 to ban pensions for newly elected legislators.[25]

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

In Thousands
'PEW '(2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$11,658,734 $43,797,899 $36,400,000

Public Records

The Louisiana Public Records Act, also known as Louisiana's Sunshine Law, was enacted by the state's legislature in 1940.

The Louisiana Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

In 1974, Louisiana adopted a new State Constitution which included a provision establishing (for the first time) that public documents are presumed to be open for public inspection. The 1974 constitution says, "No person shall be denied the right to . . . examine public documents except in cases established by law." (La. Const. art. XII, § 3.

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

External links

References

  1. Louisiana.gov, "Agency Index," accessed January 16, 2012
  2. Louisiana.gov, "Government," accessed January 16, 2012
  3. Louisiana.gov, "Telephone Directory," accessed January 16, 2012
  4. Louisiana.gov, "Stimulus Tracking," accessed January 16, 2012
  5. Louisiana.gov, "Contracts," accessed January 16, 2012
  6. Louisiana.gov, "Vendor Center," accessed January 16, 2012
  7. Louisiana.gov, "State Budget," accessed January 16, 2012
  8. Louisiana.gov, "Public Audit Reports," accessed January 16, 2012
  9. Louisiana.gov, "LA TRAC," accessed January 16, 2012
  10. Louisiana.gov, "Ethics," accessed January 16, 2012
  11. Louisiana.gov, "Lobbyist List," accessed January 16, 2012
  12. Louisiana.gov, "Public Records," accessed January 16, 2012
  13. Louisiana.gov, "Department of Revenue," accessed January 16, 2012
  14. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  15. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  16. Louisiana Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 2008 Louisiana Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Helpful Information Benefits Booklet
  19. For State Employees - State Holidays
  20. National Conference of State Legislators "Pensions and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2010 State Legislatures" July 19, 2010
  21. Louisiana House Bill 1337 Regular Session, 2010
  22. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  23. Yahoo! Finance “11 state Pension Funds That May Run Out of Money Oct. 18, 2010
  24. 24.0 24.1 [1]
  25. Stateline.org "Pension overhaul treats lawmakers, other state workers differently" July 29, 2010
  26. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  27. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  28. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)