Evaluation of Missouri state website

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MO.gov is the website for the state of Missouri.

State voter registration data shows that 471,542 voters, or 11.5 percent, of Kansas's 4.1 million voters are registered as "inactive" due to not voting recently or having an invalid mailing address.[1]

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 P
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Public records P
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Taxes
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Transparency grading process


This website was reviewed on January 20, 2012.

The good

  • The website has a search function and is easy to navigate. It also has a transparency page with helpful links to pages and documents.[2]
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[3]
  • A state phone directory is posted.[4]
  • Audits are posted.[5]
  • Budgets are posted.[6]
  • Bid opportunities are posted.[7]
  • Contracts are posted in a searchable database.[8]
  • Tax information is posted.[9]
  • Ethics information is posted.[10]
  • Lobbyist lists and reports are available.[11]
  • Information and a form are provided for Missouri Sunshine Law requests.[12]

The bad

  • No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.
  • Departmental contacts for submitting public records requests are not posted in one place.

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 72.5 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]

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

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

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Ethics Commission State PACs, lobbyists, and campaign finance 2011 http://www.moethics.mo.gov/
Open Data Portal State Transparency Portal 2012 http://data.mo.gov/
Accountability Portal State Expenditures 2011 http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov/MAP/Portal/Default.aspx
Recovery State Tracks federal stimulus funds 2011 http://transform.mo.gov/
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=MO

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Missouri and local governments in the state employed a total of 391,994 people.[16] Of those employees, 295,212 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $974,910,528 per month and 96,782 were part-time employees paid $80,740,861 per month.[16] More than 55% of those employees, or 217,798 employees, were in education or higher education.[16]

State Employee Benefits

Insurance

Health Under the Missouri Consolidated Healthcare Plan (MCHCP), state employees may choose from a variety of plan options, including a high deductible plan, HMO, PPO and Copay plan.[17] Individual employees seeking coverage for only themselves pay between $46 and $56 per month as a premium and the MCHCP pays $451 per month.[18]

Dental Optional dental insurance is available to employees at a monthly rate of $18.34 for individual coverage.[19]

Vision Optional dental insurance is available to employees at a monthly rate of $7.50 for individual coverage.[20]

Sick Leave Employees who are employed on a full-time basis in positions of a continuing or permanent nature earn sick leave at the rate of five hours per pay period. For part-time employees in eligible positions, sick leave is prorated.[21]

Employees can accumulate sick leave without limit. Sick leave can be converted to retirement credit upon retirement.[21]

Annual Leave Employees earn leave based on their time of employment with the state.[21]

  • Employees with less than ten years of total state service earn 5 hours of annual leave each pay period with a maximum annual leave balance of 240 hours (30 days).
  • Employees who have completed ten years of total state service earn 6 hours of annual leave each pay period with a maximum annual leave balance of 288 hours (36 days).
  • Employees who have completed fifteen years of total state service earn 7 hours of annual leave each pay period with a maximum annual leave balance of 336 hours (42 days).

Annual leave is prorated for part-time employees in eligible positions who work a minimum of 40 hours in a pay period.[21]

Holidays State employees receive the following paid holidays[22]:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Washington’s Birthday
  • Truman Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Other Leave Leave may also be granted for military service, disaster relief specialists or emergency services.[21]

Other

Employee Assistance Program (dead link)

Pre-tax plans[23]

  • The Premium Conversion Program allows employees to have certain state-sponsored insurance premiums deducted before taxes are assessed.
  • The Healthcare Flexible Spending Account is a State sponsored benefit program that allows employees to use pre-tax money to pay for certain medical expenses.
  • The Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows you to save on child or elder care expenses.
  • The Commuter Benefits Program allows employees to use pre-tax dollars to pay for Parking or Mass Transit/Van Pool expenses incurred while traveling to and from employment.

Pensions

Retirement benefits are administered by Missouri State Employee's Retirement System (MOSERS).[24] To be eligible to participate in the MSEP 2000, you must be employed by the state in a position normally requiring you to work at least 1,040 hours per year.[25] MOSERS retirement plan is non-contributory and thus is funded only by the state. The state makes a monthly contribution to MOSERS to fund the employee's retirement.[25] The retirement benefit is based on the employee's total credited service and the employee's highest 36 consecutive months of pay; the state states that it rewards your continued employment by increasing the value of the retirement benefit for each additional year of service.[25]

Governor Nixon signed pension reform legislation in July of 2010 requiring public employees contribute a portion of their salaries to the state pension fund.[26][27] Workers hired after January 2011 must contribution 4% of their pre-tax salary.[28][29][30]

Despite high investment returns 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 Missouri pension fund will run out of money in 2021.[31] The Standard & Poor's index has also said that Missouri pensions represent “material long-term risks” to the state and local government.[32]

The Public School and Education Employee Retirement System serves130,000 active members and over 63,000 retired Missouri public school teachers, school employees, and their families.[33]

Retirement Age

The state raised the standard retirement age will rise from 62 to 67 — the highest in the nation, along with Illinois.[34] Retirement age to 67 also requires 10 years of service, which is up from age 62 with 5 years of service; some very long-term workers may be able to retire earlier.[35]

Lawmakers' Pensions

The pension rules are different and more favorable for lawmakers than they are for most state employees. Members of the General Assembly will be able to retire at 62, not 67 as required by recent legislation, and they are eligible for a pension after six years of service, rather than 10. Statewide elected officials, such as the governor and attorney general, qualify for a pension after four years in office.[34]

“I want to know,” state Representative Stephen Webber said during a floor debate, “why the members of this body find ourselves so worthy that we should get to retire five years before regular state employees, and with four less years of service.”

Transportation pensions

An audit was recently conducted on the Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS). One of the findings in the audit was that the board did not follow proper procedures when hiring an investment manager or establishing limits for travel expenses.[36] MPERS also allowed a risky investment of $15 million despite the executive director, chief investment officer, and an investment consultant disagreeing with venture.

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[37], the American Enterprise Institute[38] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[39]

In Thousands
PEW (2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$9,025,293 $56,760,147 $42,100,000

Other information from the Pew Center on the States Feb. 2010 publication "The Trillion Dollar Gap":

State Pension Funding Levels 2008 (figures are in thousands)[40]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$52,827,423 $9,025,293 $1,219,871 $1,072,027
State Retiree Healthcare and Other Non-Pension Benefits Funding 2008 (figures are in thousands)[40]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$2,867,472 $2,851,826 $262,215 $151,629
Underfunded pension liabilities
Number of pension plans Pension assets ($bn) Stated liabilities ($bn) Funding status (% of tax revenue)
3 $27 $51.3 -603%

This data is based on projected data from 2008 census data.[41] In 2008, $1.94 trillion was set aside for pensions, but it is estimated that states have $5.17 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Rate of Return

Missouri presumes a 8.00% return rate on its pension investments.[40] In 2010, the Missouri public pension fund saw 14.3 percent returns.[42]

Public Records

Missouri's Sunshine Law was introduced seven years after the Freedom of Information Act was passed in Congress in response to the Watergate scandal. In 1973, RSMO Chapter 610 was signed into the Missouri Constitution making the state one earliest advocates of the open records act. The law expressly stated that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies are to be open to the public.[43]

The law set out to create specific instances when a meeting, record or vote may be closed should be narrowly defined and interpreted to promote government openness. Public meetings are designated to be held at convenient times, to be accessible to the public and held in facilities large enough to accommodate the expected audience.

The Missouri Meeting Notices Law legislates the methods by which meetings are conducted, either open or closed.

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

Voter fraud

15 Missouri counties reported voting records larger than census data.[44] In 2010, Missouri Watchdog identified 281 potential dead voters.[45]

External links

References

  1. Missouri Watchdog, Missouri has almost half million inactive voters, Oct. 25, 2010
  2. MO.gov, "Transparency," accessed January 20, 2012
  3. MO.gov, "Elected Officials," accessed January 20, 2012
  4. MO.gov, "Employee Phone Directory," accessed January 20, 2012
  5. MO.gov, "CAFR," accessed January 20, 2012
  6. MO.gov, "Budget and Planning," accessed January 20, 2012
  7. MO.gov, "On-line Bidding," accessed January 20, 2012
  8. MO.gov, "Contracts," accessed January 20, 2012
  9. MO.gov, "Department of Revenue," accessed January 20, 2012
  10. MO.gov, "Ethics Commission," accessed January 20, 2012
  11. MO.gov, "Lobbying," accessed January 20, 2012
  12. MO.gov, "Sunshine Law," accessed January 20, 2012
  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. Missouri Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 2008 Missouri Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  17. Plans Index (dead link)
  18. Premiums (dead link)
  19. Dental Insurance (dead link)
  20. Vision Insurance (dead link)
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Types of Leave
  22. Hours of Work
  23. Pre-Tax Plans
  24. MOSERS Benefits
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Benefits
  26. Watchdog.org, New state workers to start paying into pension system next year, July 19, 2010
  27. "Pension overhaul treats lawmakers, other state workers differently" July 29, 2010
  28. National Conference of State Legislators "Pensions and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2010 State Legislatures" July 19, 2010
  29. Missouri House of Representatives Bill Tracking
  30. Missouri House Bill 1 Effective Oct. 12, 2010
  31. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  32. Missouri Watchdog, Pensions and benefits pose long-term risks to states, Nov. 9, 2010
  33. PSRS/PEERS Home Page
  34. 34.0 34.1 Stateline.org "Pension overhaul treats lawmakers, other state workers differently" July 29, 2010
  35. The Wall Street Journal “Stressed States Are Forcing Workers to Retire Later“ August 2, 2010
  36. Missouri Watchdog, Audit uncovers problems with Missouri pension fund, Oct. 26, 2010
  37. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  38. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  39. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" Feb. 2010
  41. Northwestern University, The Liabilities and Risks of State-Sponsored Pension Plans, May 2010
  42. Missouri Watchdog, Missouri pension fund returns 14.3 percent on investments, Aug. 24, 2010
  43. Jean Maneke, Esq., Missouri BAR, The Sun Shines a Little Brighter:Changes to Chapter 610, 1999
  44. Missouri Watchdog, Fifteen Missouri counties have more voters than census population, Oct. 26, 2010
  45. Missouri Watchdog, Dead voters in Missouri?, Oct. 28, 2010