Evaluation of New Hampshire state website

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NH.gov is the website for the state of New Hampshire.

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 N
600px-Red x.png
Public records N
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Taxes
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State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process


This website was reviewed on January 22, 2012.

The good

  • Elected officials are posted, with links to pages with contact information.[1]
  • A state personnel directory is posted.[2]
  • The state has a transparency site, with budget overviews and other information.[3]
  • Budgets are posted.[4]
  • Audits are posted.[5]
  • State contracts are posted.[6]
  • Bid opportunities are posted.[7]
  • Ethics information is available for the legislative[8] and executive.[9]
  • State tax information is provided.[10]

The bad

  • The site is somewhat difficult to navigate. There is a search function, but it does not return helpful results.
  • No information is available on state-level lobbyists or Taxpayer-funded lobbying.
  • There is no information on how to make public records requests under the New Hampshire Right to Know Law.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "D-" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 49 out of 100.[11]

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.[12]

New Hampshire received an overall grade of D, or 66%. It ranked 34 out of the 50 states.[13]

Category Grade
Public Access to Information F
Political Financing D
Executive Accountability B-
Legislative Accountability C-
Judicial Accountability B-
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 F
State Insurance Commissions B+
Redistricting F

Transparency portal

In December 2010, the state launched NHTransparency.gov, which posts the budget, expenditure and revenue information online.[14]

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Budget Office State Budget documents 2011 http://admin.state.nh.us/budget/index.asp
Office of Economic Stimulus State Tracks federal stimulus funds 2011 http://www.nh.gov/recovery/
New Hampshire Lobbyists State List of registered lobbyists 2011 http://www.sos.nh.gov/lobbyist%20information.htm (dead link)
New Hampshire Government State State spending reports. 2011 http://www.nh.gov/transparency/
Better government Josiah Barlett Center for Public Policy Transparency policy briefs 2011 http://www.jbartlett.org/main/page.php?page_id=21
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=NH

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of New Hampshire and local governments in the state employed a total of 87,006 people.[15] Of those employees, 61,395 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $241,494,405 per month and 25,611 were part-time employees paid $28,122,822 per month.[15] More than 60% of those employees, or 52,352 employees, were in education or higher education.[15]

Of the top 100 earners among state employees in 2008, 96 worked in the university system of New Hampshire.[16] That year, the hockey coach at the University of New Hampshire earned $382,000, making him the highest paid state employee; he made three times what the governor made.[16]

The state's transparency website launched in December 2010 includes a page to search what each state employee is paid found here. It is searchable by name, agency, job title and pay range.[17]

State Employee Benefits

Insurance

Life

The State of New Hampshire offers employees a variety of life insurance programs and the employee's share of the premiums are paid through payroll deduction.[18] Insurance amounts range from $20,000, which is provided for by the state.[19] Employees have the option to increase the amount $80,000, and include a variety of options, including Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance and plans for dependents.[20]

Health

Medical and dental benefits are available to all eligible NH State Employees on the 1st day of the month following the completion of one full month of full-time regular employment. For health insurance, the employee may choose between a POS and HMO.[21] The employee makes a bi-weekly contribution of $30[22] and the State pays the remainder of the premium for single and family plans. Part-Time employees may also be eligible for Health/Dental insurance.[23]

Holidays

The State of New Hampshire gives its employees the following 10 paid holidays:[24]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

Vacation

In the first year of employment, employees earn one day of vacation per month.[25]

Vacation time earned:[25]

Years of Service Days Earned per Month Days Earned per Year Maximum Days
1-8 yrs 1.25 days 15 32
9-15 yrs 1.50 days 18 38
16-20 yrs 1.75 days 21 44
>-20 yrs 2.00 days 24 50

Sick Days

Sick time earned:[25]

Years of Service Days Earned per Month Days Earned per Year Maximum Days
0-12 months 1.25 days 15 15
1-8 yrs 1.25 days 15 90
9-15 yrs 1.25 days 15 105
16-20 yrs 1.25 days 15 120

Other Benefits

Flexible Spending Accounts provides a way for state employees to set aside money tax deferred through payroll deduction in order to pay for anticipated health expenses not covered by the health insurance plan.[26]

Employee Assistance Program is a confidential, voluntary resource provided by the Department of Health and Human Services to assist state employees and their families with a variety of life issues and challenges.[27]

Pensions

New Hampshire state employees are members of New Hampshire Retirement System.

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 New Hampshire pension fund will run out of money in 2021.[28]

In 2010, Governor John Lynch asked all agencies to present budgets at 95 percent the current spending. Instead, the New Hampshire Retirement System submitted a two-year budget which would transfer $1,554,000 out of the Legislature’s oversight and asks for $1,300,000 grant for computer programing. The effect would cause the agencies budget to rise by 3 percent.[29]

The Nashua Telegraph has described New Hampshire's retirement system as "broken," saying that it is wrong for those who earned $50-60,000 while working who can collect six figure salaries when they retire.[30]

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,[31] the American Enterprise Institute[32] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[33]

In Thousands
PEW (2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$2,522,175 $10,233,796 $8,200,000

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)[34]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$7,869,189 $2,522,175 $251,764 $189,134

Public Records

The Right to Know Law is a series of statutes designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Open Meetings 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: New Hampshire FOIA procedures.

External links

References

  1. NH.gov, "State Government," accessed January 22, 2012
  2. NH.gov, "Directory," accessed January 22, 2012
  3. NH.gov, "TransparentNH," accessed January 22, 2012
  4. NH.gov, "Budget," accessed January 22, 2012
  5. NH.gov, "Annual Financial Reports," accessed January 22, 2012
  6. NH.gov, "State Contracts," accessed January 22, 2012
  7. NH.gov, "Current Bid Opportunities," accessed January 22, 2012
  8. NH.gov, "Legislative Ethics Committee," accessed January 22, 2012
  9. NH.gov, "Executive Branch Ethics Committee," accessed January 22, 2012
  10. NH.gov, "Overview of New Hampshire Taxes," accessed January 22, 2012 (dead link)
  11. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  12. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  13. New Hampshire Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. New Hampshire Transparency
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 2008 New Hampshire Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  16. 16.0 16.1 New Hampshire Union Leader "UNH coach Umile tops pay list" January 25, 2009
  17. TransparentNH State Employee Pay Search
  18. Life Insurance
  19. Benefit Brochure
  20. Life Insurance
  21. Open Enrollment
  22. Contribution Chart
  23. Open Enrollment
  24. Holidays
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Benefit Brochure
  26. Flexible Spending Accounts
  27. Employee Assistance Program
  28. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  29. Watchdog, NH Retirement System approves Budget “Shell Game”, Sept. 23, 2010
  30. New Hampshire Watchdog, Expensive promises in retirement system, Sept. 28, 2010
  31. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  32. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  33. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)
  34. Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" Feb. 2010