Evaluation of West Virginia state website

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WV.gov is the website for the state of West Virginia.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngD
Budget P
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Usability P
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Legislative P
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Executive P
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Ethics
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Audits P
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Contracts P
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Lobbying P
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Public records
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Compensation N
600px-Red x.png
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process


This website was reviewed on March 12, 2013.

The good

  • Budget (8/10 pts)
    • Budgets are posted.[1]
    • The Governor's budget is posted.[2]
    • Enacted budgets are posted.[3]
    • Appropriations information is posted.[3]
    • Spending and revenue trends over time are available.[3][4]
    • Expenditure schedules are available.[5]
  • Usability (5/10 pts)
    • Site has a search function and is somewhat easy to navigate.
    • Consistent use of domain.
    • The state has a transparency site, although it is not featured on the main WV.gov site.[6]
  • Executive (3/10 pts)
    • Agencies are listed with contact information.[7]
    • Elected officials are listed, with contact information on their pages.[8]
    • A state phone directory is provided and includes phone numbers and some e-mail.[9]
  • Legislative (3/10 pts)
    • Membership directory has name, picture and contact information (including e-mail and phone) of all legislators. Also includes committee assignments.[10]
  • Ethics (10/10 pts)
    • Ethics information is available.[11]
    • Includes the process for reporting an ethics violcation.[12]
    • Ethics Advisory Opinions are posted online.[13]
  • Audits (6/10 pts)
    • Audits are posted from 1995-2012.[14]
  • Contracts (8/10 pts)
  • Lobbying (1/10 pts)
    • Lists of registered lobbyists and their employers are provided.[17]
  • Public records (10/10 pts)
  • Compensation (0/10 pts)

The bad

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website an "A-" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 91 out of 100.[19]

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.[20]

West Virginia received an overall grade of D+, or 68%. It ranked 27 out of the 50 states.[21]

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

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Economic Recovery Portal State Tracks federal stimulus spending 2011 http://www.recovery.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Official Acts of the Governor of West Virginia and Other Records State Executive Records 2011 http://www.sos.wv.gov/public-services/execrecords/Pages/default.aspx
State Budget Office State Cash flow, revenue, appropriations, federal reports, and budget information 2011 http://www.budget.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Ethics Commission State Open Meetings Act and lobbyist disclosure. 2011 http://www.ethics.wv.gov/Pages/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=WV

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of West Virginia and local governments in the state employed a total of 117,327 people.[22] Of those employees, 93,289 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $288,640,423 per month and 24,038 were part-time employees paid $20,440,633 per month.[22] More than 57% of those employees, or 67,113 employees, were in education or higher education.[22]

State Employee Benefits

Employees of the state of West Virginia enjoy numerous benefits in addition to their salary.[23]

Holidays

The state offers 12 paid holidays in each year. The number of paid holidays is above the national average for both public and private sector employees. In addition, employees generally do not work on statewide primary and general election days.[23] Employees receive the following holidays:[24]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • President's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • West Virginia Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran's Day
  • Thanksgiving and the day after
  • Christmas

Vacation

Employees earn vacation as follows:[23]

Service Category Accrual Rate Carry-forward Maximum
Less than 5 years 1.25 days/mo = 15 days/year 30 days
5 years, less than 10 1.50 days/mo = 18 days/year 30 days
10 years, less than 15 1.75 days/mo = 21 days/year 35 days
15 years or more 2.00 days/mo = 24 days/year 40 days

Sick Leave

Full-time classified employees earn 1.5 days of paid sick leave per month, which amounts to 18 paid sick days per year. There is no limit to the amount of sick leave an employee can accumulate year to year.[23]

Insurance

The state offers a comprehensive indemnity health insurance plan which includes benefits for hospital, surgical, major medical, prescription drug, and other medical expenses. The state also offers medical insurance through a variety of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO). The state pays the major portion of the insurance premium. Employee paid premiums for health insurance vary by salary. Optional group dental plans are also available.[23]

The state provides employees with a $10,000 decreasing term life policy with accidental death and dismemberment benefits. Additional group rate insurance is also available to employees.[23]

Other Benefits

  • Flexible Spending Accounts The Mountaineer Flexible Benefits program allows tax-free deductions for dental, vision, and disability insurance, as well as medical expenses not reimbursed by regular insurance coverage (such as deductibles and co-payments) and child/dependent care expenses.[23]
  • Longevity Pay

Employees with 3 or more years of qualifying service receive annual increment pay in recognition of the value of their past and present service. The annual increment is $60 for each full year of qualifying service, and is paid in July of each year.

Lawsuits

In August 2010, the West Virginia Public Worker’s Union, UE Local 170, filed suit against WVOT (West Virginia IT department) trying to stop the department from outsourcing jobs.[25]

Public v. Private

Between 2008 and 2009 the number of West Virginia's below the poverty threshold increased by 17 percent.[26]

Pensions

State employees participate in the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement System. West Virginia faces a long-term funding shortfall in its retiree health care system that actuaries have placed at $7.4 billion, one of the biggest in the nation on a per-capita basis.[27]

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 West Virginia pension fund will run out of money in 2019.[28]

Eligibility

Active employees with five or more years of contributing service are eligible for full retirement benefits at age 60, or whether employed or not when the employee's age plus years of contributing service are equal to or greater than 80, with a minimum age of 55.[23]

Contribution Rates

Each employee contributes 4.5% of salary to the retirement system (tax-deferred).[23]

Retiree Healthcare

In West Virginia, the 36,000 state employee or public school teacher retirees receive a monthly subsidy paid primarily by the state intended to help cover the costs of their health insurance premiums. The average monthly subsidy is $333 per retiree. The state will not offer the benefit to employees hired after July 1, 2010.[27] However, the American Federation of Teachers of West Virginia and the West Virginia Education Association have filed lawsuits opposing the reform.[29]

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

In Thousands
PEW (2008) AEI (2008) Kellogg (2009)
$4,968,709 $14,378,914 $11,100,000

Public Records

The Freedom of Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Open 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: West Virginia FOIA procedures.

External links

References

  1. WV.gov, "Approved Budget," accessed January 26, 2012
  2. Executive Budget
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Reports and Charts
  4. Revenue Reports
  5. Expenditure Schedules
  6. TransparencyWV.org Accessed January 26, 2012
  7. WV.gov, "Agencies," accessed January 26, 2012
  8. WV.gov, "Elected Officials," accessed January 26, 2012
  9. WV.gov, "State Phone Directory," accessed January 26, 2012
  10. 2013 Legislative Membership Directory
  11. WV.gov, "Ethics Commission," accessed January 26, 2012
  12. Complaint Information
  13. Ethics Advisory Opinions
  14. WV.gov, "CAFR," accessed January 26, 2012
  15. WV.gov, "Contracts," accessed January 26, 2012
  16. TransparencyWV.org, "Vendor Payments," accessed January 26, 2012
  17. "Lobbyist Lists," accessed January 26, 2012
  18. WV.gov, "FOIA Request," accessed January 26, 2012
  19. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  20. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  21. West Virginia Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 2008 West Virginia Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 23.6 23.7 23.8 Benefits
  24. Holiday Schedule
  25. West Virginia Watchdog, BREAKING: WV Public Workers Union Files Court Action Against Office of Technology, Aug. 30, 2010
  26. Watchdog, Below Poverty Threshold Increases in W.Va., Sept. 29, 2010
  27. 27.0 27.1 Stateline.org "In graying West Virginia, a mountain of retiree health bills" July 13, 2010
  28. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  29. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trillion
  30. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  31. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  32. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)