Evaluation of Connecticut state website

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
CT.gov is the website for the state of Connecticut.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB
Budget
{{{1}}}
Usability P
Partial.png
Elected Officials
{{{1}}}
Administrative Officials
{{{1}}}
Ethics
{{{1}}}
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 13, 2012.

The good

  • The state has a Freedom of Information Commission with information about public records requests.[1]
  • Bid opportunities are posted.[2] Bid results and contracts are also posted.[3]
  • Administrative officials are listed with contact information within department pages.[4]
  • Legislators are listed with contact information.[5]
  • Budgets are posted.[6]
  • Departmental and single statewide audits are posted.[7]
  • Information is available on the state's ethics regulations.[8]
  • Tax information is posted,[9] including tax calculators.[10]

The bad

  • Site has a search function, but is somewhat difficult to navigate through -- for example, a search for "Budget" does not give helpful results, and the state agency with budget information does not mention the budget or financial reports in its summary on the state agencies directory.[4]
  • No information provided on Taxpayer-funded lobbying, registered lobbyists, or agency lobbying contracts.

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 85 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]

Connecticut received an overall grade of B, or 85%. It ranked 2 out of the 50 states.[13]

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

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes
Connecticut Recovery Initiative State of Connecticut Federal stimulus spending
CTSunlight Yankee Institute for Public Policy Payroll, pensions, and payments
[http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=CT Follow the Money National Institute on Money in State Politics] Campaign contributions

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Connecticut and local governments in the state employed a total of 227,433 people.[14] Of those employees, 166,065 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $788,852,326 per month and 58,965 were part-time employees paid $76,572,375 per month.[14] Approximately 62% of those employees, or 140,131 employees, were in education or higher education.[14]

Vacation Time Eligible state employees, permanent full time or part-time with benefits, are entitled to paid vacation time. Full time employees are eligible to begin taking paid vacation after completing six months of service. Part-time employees, with benefits, can begin taking paid vacation after completing the equivalent of six months of full time service.[15]

Employees accrue vacation leave at the following rate for each completed month of service (prorated, if part-time):

  • 0-5 years of service: 1 day per month (12 days per year).
  • 5-20 years: 1-1/4 days per month (15 days per year).
  • 20 or more years: 1-2/3 days per month (20 days per year).[15]

Personal Days Permanent employees, and some part-time employees per labor contracts, are allowed three personal leave days per calendar year.[15]

Sick Leave permanent full time or part-time with benefits, are entitled to paid sick time. Sick leave accrues at the rate of 1 1/4 days for every full calendar month worked. In addition to illness or injury of the employee, sick leave may be used for Medical or dental appointments that cannot be scheduled outside regular working hours; Serious illness in the immediate family which requires your presence (up to five (5) days per year for sick family); Death in the immediate family; Attending funerals of friends or relatives who are not part of the immediate family; or parental leave.[15]

Funeral Leave Each employee may take up to three days of sick leave per occasion per calendar year due to a death in the immediate family, including a spouse, parent, sibling, child or any relative who lives in the employee's household. Up to three days of sick leave per calendar year may be used to for going to, attending, and returning from funerals of non-immediate family members or friends. Non-immediate family includes, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and in-laws.

Other Leave If summoned to jury duty, an employee will receive his/her regular salary and benefits for any period of time he/she serves as a juror.

Regarding military leave, the state permits employees as many as three weeks in a calendar year for field training. Paid leave for military call-ups other than annual training is limited to unscheduled emergencies, subject to the provisions of the employee's union contract.

Holidays Full time, permanent employees of the State of Connecticut receive 12 paid vacation days[15]:

  • New Years Day
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday
  • Lincoln’s Birthday
  • Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day)
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Insurance

Health Insurance All State employees have the opportunity to select one of the approved health insurance plans at the time of hire and may extend health coverage to cover the employee's immediate family, spouse and unmarried children or same-sex domestic partner.[15] The state generally pays 70 percent of this cost.[15]

Other Insurance Options

  • Employees may also elect to have dental coverage.
  • Group life insurance is an option available to permanent employees.
  • Short-term Disability Insurance is available to full-time, active employees.
  • Long-term Disability Insurance is available to full-time, active employees.
  • Automobile/Homeowners Insurance is available to full-time, active employees or retirees through a state-authorized vendor.
  • Long-term Healthcare Insurance can be obtained by full-time, active employees and retirees.
  • Full-time, active employees and retirees who want to supplement their life insurance coverage may purchase universal life insurance coverage.[15]

Pensions

Connecticut’s pension system serves 175,000 active and retired state employees, teachers and those in the judicial system.[16]

The Connecticut State Employees Retirement Commission consists of six trustees who are members of the State Employees Retirement System and are appointed by the governor. The retirement system is managed in accordance with the Connecticut General Statutes, Section 5-155a, for state and municipal plans but not for the Teachers' Retirement System. Public school teachers participate in the Connecticut Teachers' Retirement System.

The Commission has six subcommittees: Actuarial, Hazardous Duty, Investment, Personnel & Litigation, Purchasing and Regulation.[17]

In FY2008, Connecticut’s three pension systems had a total liability of $41.3 billion.[18] With a combined funding level of 61.6%, their unfunded liability was nearly four and a half times the state's annual payroll cost.[18] Then, in April 2010, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy reported that the state faced an unfunded liability approaching $16 billion.[16]

The state has limited options for pension reform because its current collective bargaining agreement lasts until 2017.[18] 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 Connecticut pension fund will run out of money in 2018.[19] Should the pension fund run out of money then, the cost the following year would be $4.9 billion, which would be 27% of state revenue.[20]

Public Records

The Connecticut Freedom of Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in Connecticut. The law was first enacted in 1975.

The Connecticut Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

Statutes 1-200 through 1-259 define these transparency laws.

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

External links

References

  1. CT.gov, "FOI Commission," accessed January 13, 2012
  2. CT.gov, "State Procurement," accessed January 13, 2012
  3. CT.gov, "Search Contracts," accessed January 13, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 CT.gov, "Agencies," accessed January 13, 2012
  5. CT.gov, "Connecticut General Assembly," accessed January 13, 2012
  6. CT.gov, "Budget Books," accessed January 13, 2012
  7. CT.gov, "Audit Reports," accessed January 13, 2012 (dead link)
  8. CT.gov, "Office of State Ethics," accessed January 13, 2012
  9. CT.gov, "Department of Revenue Services," accessed January 13, 2012
  10. CT.gov, "Individual," accessed January 13, 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. Connecticut Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 2007 Connecticut Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 State of Connecticut Fringe Benefits
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Yankee Institute for Public Policy "Unfunded Liabilities Worse Than Forecast" April 7, 2010
  17. Office of the State Comptroller Retirement Services Division, About
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" Feb. 2010
  19. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  20. Yahoo! Finance “11 state Pension Funds That May Run Out of Money Oct. 18, 2010