Evaluation of Arizona state website

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AZ.gov is the website for the state of Arizona.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngF
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 N
600px-Red x.png
Audits P
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Contracts
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Lobbying P
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Public records P
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Compensation N
600px-Red x.png
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on an unknown date.

The good

  • Budget
    • Budgets and the governor’s proposed budgets are archived for at least 3 years.[1]
    • Check register is available.[2]
    • Fiscal history available from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee with spending and revenue graphs.[3]
    • Arizona OpenBooks also has spending and revenue graphs.[4]
    • Tax expenditure reports are posted.[5]
    • Department of Revenue annual reports are posted.[6]
  • Legislative Public Officials
    • Contact information, including e-mails, is available for all elected officials.[7]
    • Party affiliation is disclosed.
    • Committee appointments are online.
    • Roll call votes are online.
  • Executive Public Officials
    • Cabinet members are listed.[8]
    • There is a state employee directory search that provides phone numbers.[9]
  • Audits
    • Information about regular audits is available.[10]
    • Audit results posted online.[11]
    • Performance audits are posted online.[12]
  • Contracts
    • Rules governing contracts will be posted online.[13]
    • Bids and contracts for purchases over $10,000 will be posted online.[14]
    • Complete statements for awarded contracts will be disclosed.[15]
  • Public Records
    • Some departments have Public Records Request forms.[16]
    • At least 24 hours is given notice online before a public meeting is held.[17]
  • Lobbying
    • Database of registered lobbyists.[18]
    • Lobbying database specifies lobbyist, company, and client.
  • Usability
    • Site is consistent in use of web domains.
    • Internal search function is useful.
    • Information is presented in a clear and concise manner, with website written in “plain english” instead of legal jargon.
    • Budgets are downloadable as PDFs.
    • All PDFs, financial data, and legislation are searchable or can be presented in a drilldown database format.

The bad

  • Budget
    • Appropriations bills are not posted online at least one week before being voted on.
    • Enacted budgets are not posted.
    • No evidence that the proposed budget will be posted seven days prior to being voted on.
  • Legislative Public Officials
    • Terms of office and date of next election are not posted online.
    • Salaries and pension benefits are not disclosed for elected officials.
    • Conflict of interests forms are not online.
  • Executive Public Officials
    • Contact information is not posted for department heads.
    • State employee directory does not include email addresses.
    • Salaries and pension benefits are not disclosed.
  • Ethics
    • Does not have an ethics commission and guidelines for ethical behavior of officials or it could not be found in search function.
    • Process for reporting ethics violation is not available online or it could not be found in search function.
    • Results of ethics investigations are not posted online or it could not be found in search function.
  • Audits
    • Schedule for audits is not posted online.
  • Public Records
    • Contact information, including e-mails, for the Public Information Officer for every state agency and department is not in a central location.
    • Citizens should be able to request public records online, either by e-mail or an online submission form.
    • Annual compliance surveys that measure the number of FOIA requests submitted, number fulfilled, average time for compliance, and reasons for denials are not posted online.
    • Executive sessions and appropriation meetings need to be broadcast online and archived.
    • Needs information regarding public information violations and how to pursue them will be posted online.
  • Lobbying
    • Lobbying database does not specify agency being lobbied or purpose of lobbying.
    • Agency lobbying contracts are not posted online.
    • All grants given to non-profit organizations need to be posted online. The reason for the grant will also be disclosed, along with the contact for organization responsible for oversight.
    • Executive and Legislative lobbying is not recorded.
    • Disclosure of state-paid lobbying activity is not available.
  • Usability
    • Information cannot always be found in six clicks or less.
    • Website does not have a consistent and easy-to-use interface, especially in regards to how the website is navigated and information organized.
  • Compensation
    • Each department should list the cost of salaries and benefits.

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 90 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]

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

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

Other state websites

Arizona State Legislature

See also: Arizona Legislature

The Arizona Legislature website has two main toolbars with links to various state hubs and legislative information. The House, the Senate, Legislative Council and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee each have links to the individual web pages.[22] In regards to the legislative information the Legislature provides detailed information about bills both current and past. Each bill includes: overview, sponsors, various submitted versions, bill summary or a fact sheet, Senate and House agendas and calendars, and any available video of discussions.[23]

The Legislature website also includes summaries of both the House and Senate sessions, however, as of March 20, 2010, no information was available. According to the layout, information would include: vetoed bills; summaries by bill number, chapter, title; enacted bills by committees; and special session summaries.[24]

The website does allow for visitors to view different sessions, however, the link to find that information is not visibly obvious. The "change session" link is available on the right-hand side directly under the header image and above the top toolbar. Available sessions include the Forty-Third Legislature (1997) through the present session, including special sessions.[25]

Live video streaming services are available on the website for watching live broadcasts of Committee Hearings, Meetings, Floor Actions and Special Events. Events can also be viewed on television channel 123 on Cox Cable.[22]

Transparency legislation

See also: Arizona transparency legislation

2011

House Bill 2572 would require an online database of state and local spending.[26]

2009

  • Senate Bill 1305, authored by Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, proposed requiring public bodies to keep public records electronically and provide them upon request on CD-ROM or in another format.[27]
  • In January 2009 the Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County passed a resolution that said that when county employees and officials want public documents that are in the custody of the county, the employees/officials are required to go through an internal process rather than using the state's sunshine law to ask for records. Open records advocates in the state have protested the new county-wide law. This action was taken in response to multiple requests in the last few months from the Maricopa County sheriff and attorney offices for documents relating to:[28]
    • A planned criminal court-tower project.
    • Communication between county officials and public-relations and consulting firms.
    • The Board of Supervisor's decision to hire former County Attorney Rick Romley as a consultant.

2008

  • Arizona Senate Bill 1235 requires the creation of an online database of all state contracts by January 1, 2008.

Resources

Resource Run by Includes
Arizona OpenBooks State of Arizona/GAO State expenditures and revenues
AZ Checkbook State of Arizona Checkbook register
Arizona Ombudsman Arizona Legislature Statutes, public records information, open meetings

Salaries

See also: Arizona state government salary

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Arizona and local governments in the state employed a total of 373,696 people,[29] up from a total of 352,500 state and local government employees in 2007.[30] Of those 373,696 employees in 2008, 289,646 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $1,211,330,199 per month and 84,050 were part-time employees paid $92,659,917 per month.[29] More than 59% of those employees, or 221,264 employees, were in education or higher education.[29]

State employees receive 10 paid holidays and may earn an additional 12 to 21 days of vacation leave per year, depending on the type of position and the employee’s tenure with the state. Employees are also provided 12 days of sick leave per year, of which, up to 5 days can be used for the care of family members. Additional leave policies exist for pregnancy and maternity, education, jury duty, and military service.[31]

The official paid holidays for state offices are[32]:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King's Birthday
  • President's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans' Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Insurance

State employees have a variety of choices for medical insurance, including EPO, PPO and HSA plans.[33] Employees also have options for dental and vision insurance.[33]

Basic life insurance and long-term disability are provided by the state and employees have the option to purchase additional life insurance, short-term disability insurance, and discounted auto and/or home insurance.[31]

Pensions

See also: Arizona public pensions

The Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) for state employees is described by the state as "an excellent retirement plan, with employee and employer contributions invested wisely."[31] It also offers benefits such as health insurance to retired employees.[31] The ASRS has over 200,000 members,[34] and it sponsors three public pension plans for teachers, emergency services and state employees.[35]

In addition, Arizona state employees can also choose to participate in a deferred compensation program to take advantage of tax-deferred retirement investments.[31]

The state agencies have said they can only pay 77 percent of future retiree benefits over the next 30 years, facing a combined $10 billion shortfall.[35] However, the American Enterprise Institute has predicted a much larger shortfall of $50.74 billion.[35]

Public Records

See also: Arizona sunshine lawsuits

The Arizona Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Arizona. The law was first enacted in 1901.

Statutes 39.101 - 39.221 define the law.

The Arizona Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statute 38.431.01 defines the law.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: Arizona FOIA procedures.

Other transparency resources

  • The Goldwater Institute is an "independent government watchdog" organization founded in 1988 with the blessing of Sen. Barry Goldwater. The Institute works to keep watch on Arizona government, expand school choice, restore economic liberty, protect private property, and secure Arizona's independence from unconstitutional federal encroachments.[36]
    • Goldwater has a Government Accountability project with watchdog reports. The organization also files legal cases seeking the release of public records.[37]
  • The National Institute on Money in Politics has a project called Follow the Money, which posts details on campaign contributions.[38]

Transparency advocates

See also: Arizona transparency advocates

Organizations

  • Arizona First Amendment Coalition (FAC) is composed of journalists from the state's news media. The organization provides information and news on several state topics, including: public records, censorship, the Arizona Supreme Court, and amicus briefs. Specifically, FAC describes itself as an organization that provides free advice to journalists on topics such as: open meeting laws, obtaining public records under the Freedom of Information Act and covering court proceedings.[40][41]
  • Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a non-profit organization advocating policies that would create a "strong and vibrant Arizona economy." They see entrepreneurs and private enterprise as the foundation for a strong economy, and work for free markets. To show their support for policies the Club lobbies lawmakers. The Club opposes policies that "hinder private industry."
    • According to the organization, in 2006 the Club was the main proponent of a 10 percent income tax cut. It was approved by the legislature and signed by the governor.[42]
  • Arizona Tax Research Association was organized in 1940 and describes itself as an "independent and accurate source of public finance and tax policy information." The organization's main goal is an "efficient statewide government and the effective use of tax dollars through sound fiscal policies."[43]
    • Publications: ATRA does not appear to have a transparency specific project, however, the organization does produce reports and newsletters that public information regarding state tax-related information. For example: ATRA annually reviews the budgets of the state's 15 counties as well as the state's 11 community college districts.[44]
  • Sun City Taxpayers Association is an organization established to " protect Sun City's pocketbook, lifestyle, and peace of mind without prejudices or political bias."[46]

Blogs

See also: Arizona blogs

External links

References

  1. OSPB.State.AZ, Executive Budgets, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  2. azcheckbook.com, Check Book, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  3. AZleg.gov, Fiscal History, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  4. OpenBooks.AZ.gov, OpenBooks, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  5. AZDOR.gov, Tax Expenditures, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  6. AZDOR.gov, Annual Reports, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  7. AZLEG.gov, Arizona Legislature, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  8. azgovernor.gov, Governor's Department and Agency Heads, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  9. ebook.state.az.us, State Employee Phone Book, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  10. GAO.AZ.gov, Financial Reporting, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  11. GAO.AZ.gov, Financial Reports, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  12. AZAudit.gov, Performance Audits, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  13. SPO.AZ.gov, Procurement Code, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  14. Procure.AZ.gov, Open Bids, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  15. Procure.AZ.gov, Active Contracts, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  16. AZSoS.gov, Public Records Request form, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  17. Apps.AZDOA.Gov, Public Meeting Notices, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  18. AZSOS.gov, Lobbyist Search, Accessed: Feb 11, 2013
  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. Arizona Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  22. 22.0 22.1 Arizona Legislature,"Main Page," accessed March 20, 2010
  23. Arizona Legislature,"Bills Search," accessed March 20, 2010
  24. Arizona Legislature,"Session Summaries," accessed March 20, 2010
  25. Arizona Legislature,"Select Session," accessed March 20, 2010
  26. HB2572, 2011
  27. Arizona Republic,"Bill merges records, technology," April 21, 2009
  28. Arizona Republic, "Supervisors to change records request policy," January 22, 2009
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 2008 Arizona Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  30. 2007 Arizona Public Employment Data
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 Department of Administration Human Resources Total Compensation
  32. State Holidays
  33. 33.0 33.1 Department of Administration Benefit Services Division
  34. ASRS homepage
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Gold Water Institute, Arizona public pensions underreport funding shortfalls, March 31, 2010
  36. Goldwater Institute,"About Goldwater," accessed March 14, 2010
  37. Goldwater Institute "Government Accountability: Cases,," accessed January 29, 2012
  38. Follow the Money "Arizona 2010,," accessed January 29, 2012
  39. Americans for Prosperity - Arizona,"Maine page," accessed March 20, 2010
  40. Arizona First Amendment Coalition,"Main page," accessed March 20, 2010
  41. Arizona First Amendment Coalition,"Cached: About," January 16, 2010
  42. Arizona Free Enterprise Club,"About Us," accessed March 20, 2010
  43. Arizona Tax Research Association,"About ATRA," accessed March 20, 2010
  44. Arizona Tax Research Association,"Budget Reviews," accessed March 20, 2010
  45. Institute for Justice - Arizona,"Main page," accessed March 14, 2010
  46. Sun City Taxpayers Association,"Main page: Mission Statement," accessed March 14, 2010