Evaluation of Ohio state website

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

Website evaluation

Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Lobbying P
Public records N
600px-Red x.png
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on January 23, 2012.

The good

  • The site has a search function and is fairly easy to navigate.
  • Agency contact information is provided.[1]
  • Legislators are listed with contact information.[2][3]
  • The state has a transparency website, with useful links.[4]
  • Budgets are posted.[5]
  • Audits are posted.[6]
  • Current contracts are available in a searchable database.[7]
  • Bid opportunities are posted.[8]
  • Tax information is available.[9]
  • Ethics information is posted.[10]
  • Lobbyist lists and reports are available.[11]

The bad

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 55 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]

Ohio received an overall grade of D, or 66%. It ranked 34 out of the 50 states.[15]

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

Transparency Legislation


Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Recovery Ohio State Stimulus tracking 2011 http://recovery.ohio.gov/
Transparency Ohio State Grants, properties, employees, and budget. 2011 http://transparency.ohio.gov/
The Ohio Channel State Televised legislature 2011 http://www.ohiochannel.org/
Ohio Auditor State Public contracts 2011 http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/default.aspx
Secretary of State State Campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure 2011 http://www.sos.state.oh.us/
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=OH


State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Ohio and local governments in the state employed a total of 750,760 people.[16] Of those employees, 539,008 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $2,188,567,523 per month and 211,752 were part-time employees paid $208,806,484 per month.[16] More than 54% of those employees, or 409,618 employees, were in education or higher education.[16]

Mental health professionals and IT workers are the most highly paid public salaries in the state, exceeding $100,000 annually.[17]

State Employee Benefits

Employees of the State of Ohio receive many benefits in addition to their salary.


State employees receive the following 10 paid holidays:[18]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Presidents' Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans' Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day



Employees who are a permanent full-time or permanent part-time employee are eligible for medical insurance.[19] Employees may choose among PPO and HMO offerings from five providers. The premiums paid by employees for individual coverage range from $26.74 to $30.50 per month.[20] For family coverage, employees pay between $78.91 and $89.25.[20] The state pays the remainder of the premium cost.[20]

Employees who are enrolled in any of the health plans are automatically enrolled in pharmacy benefits.[21]


If an exempt employee has one year of continuous state service, the state pays the full cost for the employee and eligible dependents to participate in a dental plan.[22]


The State of Ohio provides exempt employees who have more than one year of continuous state service with vision care benefits at no cost. Employees may choose between two vision plans.[23]


The State of Ohio provides certain exempt employees who have more than one year of continuous state service with basic term life insurance benefits. The amount of life insurance is equal to one times the employee’s annual salary, rounded up to the next closest $1,000.[24] Employees are eligible to enroll in a supplemental life insurance program, administered by Prudential, at their own cost.[25]

Long Term Care

State of Ohio employees may purchase long term care through the State's provider.[26]

Other Benefits

  • Flexible Spending Accounts - Employees can establish a dependent care spending account and a health care spending account.[27]
  • Employee Assistant Program is a screening, information, referral and support service for state employees and their family members. The Ohio EAP is designed to help you cope with personal problems.[28]
  • For employees with a federal adjusted gross income of under $35,000, the state offers childcare vouchers that are cash grants once a year for work-related child care expenses.[29]


Over 2010 Ohio lawmakers struggled to erase some of the unpaid debt for its public pension systems. In February 2010 Forbes Magazine ranked Ohio 49 for its unfunded pension liabilities, which equaled about $19,000 per state citizen.[30] By October 2010, Ohio moved up Forbes list to 43, however, the unfunded liability was still $19,110 per citizen.[31]

In January 2011 representatives from the five public pension funds appealed to lawmakers with proposals to raise member contributions and cut benefits in an effort to ensure their long-term viability.[32] The appeal did not include raising employer contributions. All the pension systems proposed reducing benefits, although in some cases the effects would vary between current retirees.[33]

State Information

Ohio has five public retirement systems: the Highway Patrol Retirement System, Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, Public Employees Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System.

The Ohio Retirement Study Council is a panel that monitors the funds so they remain solvent and assists the state legislature, governor and other public officials in the formation of sound public pension policy.[34]

Plan Breakdown

In Ohio, nearly 400,000 public retirees receive benefits from the five systems, and Ohioans pay more than $4 billion a year toward those benefits.[35]

Plan Current Value Percentage funded Unfunded liabilities Total state employees Avg. pension
Highway Patrol Retirement System $760 million 66 percent $238 million 1,597 active members $88,008
Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund $10.44 billion 72.8 percent $2.6 billion 29,774 active members $38,000
Public Employees' Retirement System $75.7 billion 75.3 percent $8.2 billion 781,777 active members $44,043
State Teachers' Retirement System $58.8 billion 60 percent $40 billion 311,807 active members $69,801
School Employees' Retirement System $10.8 billion 68.4 percent $857 million 138,465 active members $38,872

Journalists denied pension records

Eight newspapers were denied access to the state's public employee pension.[36] State Reps. Stephen Dyer and Matt Lundy were both troubled about the denial of the request, and wanted to open the records to the public.

The newspapers requested records of salaries, benefits, ages, years of service and contributions to the systems by individual. The newspapers asked the systems to withhold names, addresses and any information that would identify individuals.[37]

Public Records

The Ohio Open Records Law is contained in Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code. The law describes what records are available, what agencies are coverage, what fees can be charged, who can ask for records, and so on.

The Ohio General Assembly first enacted the open records law in 1963 ; the state's open meetings law was passed earlier, in 1954.

The Ohio 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: Ohio FOIA procedures.

External links


  1. Ohio.gov, "Agencies," accessed January 23, 2012
  2. Ohio.gov, "House Members," accessed January 23, 2012
  3. Ohio.gov, "Senate Members," accessed January 23, 2012
  4. Ohio.gov, "Transparency," accessed January 23, 2012
  5. Ohio.gov, "Budget," accessed January 23, 2012
  6. Ohio.gov, "Financial Reporting," accessed January 23, 2012
  7. Ohio.gov, "Current Contracts," accessed January 23, 2012
  8. Ohio.gov, "Selling to the State," accessed January 23, 2012
  9. Ohio.gov, "Department of Taxation," accessed January 23, 2012
  10. Ohio.gov, "Ethics Commission," accessed January 23, 2012
  11. Ohio.gov, "Lobbying: Public Resources," accessed January 23, 2012
  12. Ohio.gov, "Sunshine Laws Manual," accessed January 23, 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. Ohio Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 2008 Ohio Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  17. MSNBC's Red Tap Chronicles, Does your city manager earn $800,000?, Sept. 23, 2010 (dead link)
  18. Benefits
  19. Medical Insurance Information
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Cost Comparison Chart
  21. Pharmacy Benefits
  22. Dental Benefits
  23. Vision Insurance
  24. Life Insurance
  25. Supplemental Life Insurance
  26. Long Term Care
  27. Flexible Spending Accounts
  28. Employee Assistant Program
  29. Childcare Vouchers
  30. Ohio Citizens Standards Accounting Board, "Holy Moly, 49th of 50 in Unfunded Pension Liability, Feb. 18, 2010
  31. [1]
  32. Toledo Blade, 5 Ohio Public Pension Funds Make Offer to Cut Benefits, Jan. 27, 2011
  33. Toledo Blade, 5 Ohio Public Pension Funds Make Offer to Cut Benefits, Jan. 27, 2011
  34. Ohio Retirement Study Council
  35. Youngstown Vindicator, Remove the Veil of Secrecy from Public Pensions, June 27, 2010
  36. Ohio Watchdog, Ohio Newspapers Denied Access to Public Employee’s Pension Information, Aug. 13, 2010
  37. Dispatch, Lawmakers want to open pension records, Aug. 13, 2010