Evaluation of Utah state website

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB
Budget
{{{1}}}
Usability
{{{1}}}
Elected Officials
{{{1}}}
Administrative Officials
{{{1}}}
Ethics N
600px-Red x.png
Audits
{{{1}}}
Contracts
{{{1}}}
Lobbying P
Partial.png
Public records
{{{1}}}
Taxes
{{{1}}}
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process


This website was reviewed on January 25, 2012.

The good

  • The site has a search function and is fairly easy to navigate.
  • A state telephone directory is posted.[1]
  • Agencies are listed, with contact information on their pages.[2]
  • The state has transparency pages.[3][4]
  • Audits are posted.[5]
  • Budgets are posted.[6]
  • A list of lobbyists is posted.[7]
  • State contracts are posted in a searchable database.[8]
  • Information and a form are provided for making public records requests.[9]
  • State tax information is posted.[10]

The bad

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website an "B+" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 87 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]

Utah received an overall grade of D, or 65%. It ranked 36 out of the 50 states.[13]

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

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Elections State Campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure 2011 http://elections.utah.gov/financialdisclosure.html
Transparent Utah State Schools, financial highlights, stimulus tracking, courts 2011 http://www.utah.gov/transparency/index.html;jsessionid=d350a0e1d9620e3651b8941ee743
Planning and Budget State Budget 2011 http://governor.utah.gov/budget/
Salt Lake City's Open Government Initiative State Salt Lake Open Government 2010 http://www.transparencyslcgov.com/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=UT

Public employee salaries

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Utah and local governments in the state employed a total of 179,899 people.[14] Of those employees, 112,162 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $445,209,194 per month and 67,737 were part-time employees paid $60,442,587 per month.[14] More than 60% of those employees, or 108,104 employees, were in education or higher education.[14]

Utah gained national attention in 2008, being the first state government in the nation to adopt a 40-hour, four-day work week as a cost saving measure to address state revenue declines.[15]

As of 2010, the state budget director made approximately $124,200 per year.[16]

State Employee Benefits

State of Utah employees enjoy many benefits in addition to their salary. The state estimates the value of the benefits to be $29,655 for an employee earning an annual salary of $45,936.[17]

Holidays

Employees receive the following 10 paid holidays:[17][18]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Washington and Lincoln Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Pioneer Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Annual Leave

Employees may earn a minimum of 13 days of annual leave per year and based on time in service, an employee can earn up to 22.75 days of annual leave per year.[17]

Sick Leave

13 days of sick leave per year, and there are no limits on the employee's accrual of sick leave.[17]

Other Leave

Employees also receive leave for jury duty leave, bereavement leave for funeral, military leave, disaster recovery leave, organ donor leave, and/or approved administrative leave.

Insurance

State of Utah employees can choose from 4 medical plans, 3 dental plans, and 2 vision plans.[17]

Long Term Disability Insurance (LTD) and $25,000 Minimum Life Insurance is provided and funded by the state for all benefit eligible employees.[19][17]

Supplemental insurance is available to employees. Additional life insurance up to $325,000 can be purchased. Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D) is also available for purchase.[17][20] Employees can also purchase discounted home and auto insurance and long term care insurance.[17]

Other Benefits

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Accounts (HAS) are also available for qualified medical expenses or dependent care expenses.[17]
  • Education Assistance State agencies may assist an employee in the pursuit of educational goals by granting administrative leave to attend classes, a subsidy of educational expenses, or both.[17]
  • Employee Assistance Program and Life Assistance Counseling assist employees with personal and/or work-related problems.[17]

General Manager of the Utah Transit Authority, John Inglish, makes $350,000 annually, more than the general managers in New York and Washington, D.C.[21]

Pensions

The Utah pension board is comprised of the state treasurer, four financial professionals who are independent of the pension system and two individuals within the system—a public employee and an educator.[22]

Investment assumptions

In 2008, Utah reduced its investment assumption from 8 percent to 7.75 percent.[22]

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,[23] the American Enterprise Institute[24] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[25]

In Thousands
PEW (2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$3,611,399 $18,626,024 $16,500,000

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)[22]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$22,674,673 $3,611,399 $641,690 $641,690

Public Records

The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Utah.

The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act 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: Utah FOIA procedures.

External links

References

  1. Utah.gov, "Directory," accessed January 25, 2012
  2. Utah.gov, "Agency List," accessed January 25, 2012
  3. Utah.gov, "Open Gov," accessed January 25, 2012
  4. Utah.gov, "Transparency," accessed January 25, 2012
  5. Utah.gov, "Audit Reports," accessed January 25, 2012
  6. Utah.gov, "Budgets," accessed January 25, 2012
  7. Utah.gov, "Lobbyist Search," accessed January 25, 2012
  8. Utah.gov, "Contracts," accessed January 25, 2012
  9. Utah.gov, "GRAMA," accessed January 25, 2012
  10. Utah.gov, "Tax Commission," accessed January 25, 2012
  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. Utah Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 2008 Utah Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  15. Associated Press, "4-day week seems to work well for Utah: Other states show interest in savings," March 1, 2009
  16. The Deseret News "Utah budget director to be 'super executive' in Michigan" Dec. 1, 2010
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 Total Compensation
  18. Holidays
  19. Long Term Disability Insurance
  20. Accidental Death and Dismemberment
  21. Red Tape Chronicles, 20 government workers with super-sized pay, Oct. 5, 2010
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" Feb. 2010
  23. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  24. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  25. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)