Evaluation of South Dakota state website

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SD.gov is the website for the state of South Dakota.

Open SD received 300,000 visits in December of 2010 and contained as many as 106,000 financial records when it launched in 2008.[1] “South Dakota citizens care about how their tax dollars are spent, and they can find the answers in great detail with just a few clicks on the computer,” Gov. Mike Rounds said in a statement. “OPEN SD features a wealth of documents and is continually updated.”[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 P
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying P
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Public records N
600px-Red x.png
Taxes
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State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process


This website was reviewed on January 25, 2012.

The good

  • Site has a search function and is fairly easy to navigate, although the interface can get in the way.
  • The state has a transparency website with useful information.[2]
  • Elected officials and agencies are posted, with contact information on their pages.[3]
  • A state phone directory is posted.[4]
  • Audits are posted.[5][6]
  • Budgets are posted.[7]
  • Contracts are posted.[8]
  • State tax information is available.[9]
  • Some ethics information is available.[10]
  • The text of the South Dakota Sunshine Law is published,[11] but no forms, contacts, or instructions are provided for making public records requests.
  • A list of lobbyists representing state agencies is posted,[12] as well lobbyists registered to lobby the state.[13]

The bad

  • There are no forms, contacts, or instructions provided for making public records requests.
  • The amount spent on Taxpayer-funded lobbying is not posted.
  • Complete ethics information is not available.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "B" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 83 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]

South Dakota received an overall grade of F, or 50%. It ranked 49 out of the 50 states.[16]

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

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Recovery South Dakota State Stimulus tracking 2011 http://recovery.sd.gov/
Open SD State Expenditures, revenues, vendors, contracts, audits 2011 http://open.sd.gov/
Secretary of State State Campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure 2011 http://www.sdsos.gov/
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=SD

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of South Dakota and local governments in the state employed a total of 60,891 people.[17] Of those employees, 39,058 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $124,922,636 per month and 21,833 were part-time employees paid $12,085,018 per month.[17] More than 53% of those employees, or 32,336 employees, were in education or higher education.[17]

State Employee Benefits

South Dakota’s state employees did not receive any pay raises in FY2012, marking the third year they did not receive a salary increase.[18]

Holidays

State employees receive the following 10 paid holidays:[19]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Presidents' Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Native Americans Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Vacation Leave

State employees receive three weeks vacation leave per year.[20]

Sick Leave

Employees earn 14 days of sick leave per year.[20]

Personal/Family Leave

One week personal/family leave per year is available to each full-time state employee.[20]

Insurance

State employees are eligible for insurance if they work 20 hours or more per week in a permanent position.[21]

Medical

State employees may select from three different health plans, with deductibles of either $300, $1,000 or $2,000.[22] The plans include prescription drug coverage.[23] All are offered to employees at no expense to them for individual coverage; employees pay only for coverage for their spouse and/or children.[24]

Dental

Employees may choose between basic and enhanced dental insurance plans.[25] The basic plan costs employees $19.60 per month for individual coverage, and the enhanced program costs $31.50 per month for individual coverage.[25]

Life

The State of South Dakota provides employees with basic life insurance coverage at no cost.[26] Employees may add supplemental insurance for themselves and their dependents.[26]

Other

Employees may add short-term disability insurance.[27] Other options include major injury protection and hospital indemnity plan.[28]

Other Benefits

  • Flexible Spending Accounts for medical expenses[29] and dependent care expenses.[30]
  • Longevity Pay[31]
  • Reduced Tuition at State Universities[32]

Pensions

Participation

State employees working at least 20 hours per week and six months per year participate in the South Dakota Retirement System[33]

Contributions

The total contribution to the employee's pension account equals 12 percent of the employee's salary, with 6 percent contributed by the employee and the other 6 percent contributed by the state.[33]

Cost of Living Adjustments

State lawmakers in 2010 replaced a flat 3.1% cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees with a tiered increase based on the value of the pension fund.[34]

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,[35] the American Enterprise Institute[36] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[37]

In Thousands
PEW (2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$182,870 $5,982,103 $4,700,000

Public Records

The South Dakota Sunshine Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in South Dakota.

The South Dakota 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: South Dakota FOIA procedures.

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Civi Source, OPEN SD remains a strong draw for South Dakota citizens, Dec. 29, 2010
  2. SD.gov, "Open SD," accessed January 25, 2012
  3. SD.gov, "State Agencies," accessed January 25, 2012
  4. SD.gov, "Phone Book," accessed January 25, 2012
  5. SD.gov, "Financial Reports," accessed January 25, 2012
  6. SD.gov, "Audit Reports," accessed January 25, 2012
  7. SD.gov, "State Budget," accessed January 25, 2012
  8. SD.gov, "Open SD: Financial Information: Contracts," accessed January 25, 2012
  9. SD.gov, "Department of Revenue," accessed January 24, 2012
  10. SD.gov, "Administrative Rules," accessed January 24, 2012
  11. SD.gov, "Public Records and Files," accessed January 24, 2012
  12. SD.gov, "Public Lobbyists," accessed January 24, 2012
  13. SD.gov, "Lobbyist List," accessed January 24, 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. South Dakota Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 2008 South Dakota Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  18. Capital Journal "Budget balanced but Capitol still buzzing" March 14, 2011
  19. Office closure schedule
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Work Benefits
  21. Eligibility and Participation
  22. Health Comparison Charts
  23. Prescription Coverage
  24. Premium Rates
  25. 25.0 25.1 Dental Insurance
  26. 26.0 26.1 Life and ADD Insurance
  27. Short Term Disability
  28. Rates
  29. Medical Expense Spending Accounts
  30. Dependent Care Spending Account
  31. Reduced Tuition
  32. Work Benefits
  33. 33.0 33.1 Information about Your SDRS Retirement Benefits
  34. The Associated Press "A look at state pension changes" Sept. 15, 2010
  35. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  36. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  37. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)