Evaluation of Colorado state website

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

Colorado.gov Website evaluation

Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Contracts Y
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Lobbying P
Public records P
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

In 2011 Colorado's state website earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score.

This website was reviewed on January 13, 2012.

The good

  • The site has a search function and is fairly easy to navigate.
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[1]
  • Departments are listed with contact information, with directors listed with contact information within department pages.[2]
  • Tax information is posted.[3]
  • Budgets are posted.[4]
  • Statewide audits are posted,[5] along with Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.[6]
  • Information on how to make public records requests is posted on certain department pages.[7]
  • Ethics information is available.[8]
  • A lobbyist directory is published.[9]
  • Contracts are posted in a searchable database,[10] along with a list of current contracts[11]

The bad

  • The drop-down menu style on the main page can be hyperactive and get in the way of exploring the site.
  • Only department-specific information and contacts are provided for making public records requests.
  • Information on Colorado government sector lobbying is not available.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "C-" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 69 out of 100.[12]

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.[13]

Colorado received an overall grade of D+, or 67%. It ranked 33 out of the 50 states.[14]

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

Transparency Online Project Website evaluation

The good

  • Expenditure and revenue available

The bad

  • Detailed information not available
  • Difficult to navigate


Resource Run by Includes
Recovery Colorado State of Colorado Tracks federal stimulus funds
Transparency Online Project State of Colorado Expenditure and revenue information
Colorado Spending Transparency Independence Institute Transparency info
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in State Politics Campaign contributions

Transparency Legislation


Mark Ferrandino introduced HB1104 which requires the Colorado Department of Revenue to create an annual tax expenditure report.[15]


According to 2008 Census data, the state of Colorado and local governments in the state employed a total of 320,650 people.[16] Of those employees, 227,729 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $971,010,148 per month and 92,921 were part-time employees paid $113,456,631 per month.[16] More than 56% of those employees, or 180,041 employees, were in education or higher education.[16]

In 2007-08, the average base salary for a state employee was $4,161 per month, which is equal to $24.01 per hour.[17]


In 2007-08, 38,067 state employees were eligible for benefits.[17]

Sick Leave

State employees have approximately 10 days per year of sick leave (6.66 hours earned per month), regardless of service time.[18]


State employees enjoy 10 paid holidays.[18]

Bereavement Leave

Employees are allowed up to 40 hours at the time of death of a family member or other person if the absence is approved by the appointing authority.[18]

Other Leave

  • Jury Duty - Permanent employees are granted jury leave for the period they are required to serve. Temporary employees are granted up to three working days when jury duty occurs during days they are normally scheduled to work.
  • Military Leave - Granted for permanent employees, the first 15 working days (120 hours) per calendar year are paid; any additional military leave beyond 15 days is unpaid.
  • Administrative Leave – Paid leave designed to relieve an employee of official state duties in order to participate in activities determined by the appointing authority to benefit the state.


State contributions are provided for the basic retirement plan choices offered by the Colorado Public Employer Retirement Association.[18] Colorado PERA members include state employees, public school teachers in the state, many university and college employees, judges, many employees of cities and towns, state troopers, and the employees of a number of other public entities.[19] Employees choose between a defined benefit plan or defined contribution plan.[18]

The average Colorado public employee stops working at age of 58 and deposits a check for $2,883 each month.[20]

Decline in Funding

Colorado's system was under 70% funded in 2008, down from 105% funded in 2000.[21] The decrease in funding can be attributed to:

1. Increased benefits In the late 1990s, Colorado instituted automatic cost-of-living increases for retirees and a drop in the age of normal retirement from 55 to 50 with 30 years of service.

2. Missed contributions From 2002 on, the state paid only between 50%and 70% of its actuarially required contribution, for a total of $2.4 billion in payments that were skipped. These missed payments are added to future payments with the result that the contribution requirement goes up. The plans paid $2.8 billion in benefits to retirees in 2008, whereas contributions from employers and employees totaled only $1.6 billion.

3. Investment losses In 2008, Colorado’s investment losses were 26%, but when accounting for the expected 8.5% return, in effect, that the state lost not only $11 billion, but also the $3.46 billion it was expecting to earn that year to stay even.

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 Colorado pension fund will run out of money in 2021.[22] Should the pension fund run out of money then, the cost the following year would be $7.8 billion, which would be 54% of state revenue.[23]

Public Records

The Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels in Colorado. The law was first enacted in 1969. Until the law was formalized, the ability of a citizen to gain access to public records was at the discretion of the custodian of the records, except in those cases where records custodians were forbidden to allow access.

The Colorado Sunshine Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statute 24-6-402 of the Colorado legislature define the law.

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

External links


  1. Colorado.gov, "Elected Officials," accessed January 13, 2012
  2. Colorado.gov, "State Agencies," accessed January 13, 2012
  3. Colorado.gov, "Tax Information," accessed January 13, 2012
  4. Colorado.gov, "Budget Documents," accessed January 13, 2012
  5. Colorado.gov, "Statewide Single Audit Reports," accessed January 13, 2012
  6. Colorado.gov, "CAFR," accessed January 13, 2012
  7. Colorado.gov, "HCPF: Contact Us," accessed January 13, 2012
  8. Colorado.gov, "Independent Ethics Commission," accessed January 13, 2012
  9. Colorado.gov, "Lobbists," accessed January 13, 2012
  10. Colorado.gov, "Contract Management System," accessed January 13, 2012
  11. Colorado.gov, "Current Contracts," accessed January 13, 2012
  12. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  13. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. Colorado Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  15. HOUSE BILL 11-1104
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Colorado Public Employment Data
  17. 17.0 17.1 Colorado State Workforce Demographics Report 2007-08
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 State of Colorado 2009 – 2010 Total Compensation Summary (dead link)
  19. About PERA
  20. The New York Times "Battle Looms Over Huge Costs of Public Pensions" August 6, 2010
  21. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trillion
  22. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  23. Yahoo! Finance “11 state Pension Funds That May Run Out of Money Oct. 18, 2010