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Evaluation of Montana state website
- 1 Website evaluation
- 2 U.S. PIRG rating
- 3 State Integrity Investigation
- 4 Transparency Legislation
- 5 Resources
- 6 Salaries
- 7 Public v. Private sector
- 8 Pensions
- 9 Public Records
- 10 External links
- 11 References
This website was reviewed on January 21, 2012.
- The site has a good search function and is fairly easy to navigate, particularly with the clearly organized list of agencies.
- Elected officials are listed with contact information.
- An employee directory is posted.
- An agency phone directory is posted.
- Audits are posted.
- Budgets are posted.
- Tax information is available.
- Lobbying laws and a lobbyist list are available.
- Ethics information is posted.
- State contracts are posted.
- Bid opportunities are posted.
- No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.
- No information is provided on the Montana Public Records Act and how to make public records requests.
U.S. PIRG rating
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.
|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.
Montana received an overall grade of D+, or 68%. It ranked 27 out of the 50 states.
|Public Access to Information||F|
|State Budget Processes||C-|
|State Civil Service Management||D-|
|State Pension Fund Management||F|
|Ethics Enforcement Agencies||F|
|State Insurance Commissions||C+|
- See also: Montana transparency legislation
|Office of Budget Programming and Planning||State||Budget info||2011||http://budget.mt.gov/execbudgets/default.mcpx|
|Recovery||State||Tracks federal stimulus funds||2011||http://www.recovery.mt.gov/default.mcpx (dead link)|
|Big Sky Search||Montana Policy Institute||Transparency advocacy||2011||http://bigskysearch.info/|
|Follow the Money||National Institute on Money in Politics||Campaign contributions||2010||http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=MT|
- See also: Montana state government salary
State and Local Employees
According to 2008 Census data, the state of Montana and local governments in the state employed a total of 79,153 people. Of those employees, 46,560 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $161,277,671 per month and 23,534 were part-time employees paid $19,716,027 per month. Nearly 50% of those employees, or 39,280 employees, were in education or higher education.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer's administration and three major state employee unions, included the largest Montana Public Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee (MEA-MFT), tentatively agreed to a 4 percent raise during the 2012-2013 biennium for state public employees. The raises are expected to cost the state $21.6 million, if it is approved by the Montana Legislature.
10 Montana census workers attended a "lessons learned" meeting in Vegas, which was bill at $90,000 total cost.
State Employee Benefits
The State of Montana has developed a comprehensive group insurance benefits program including medical plan options with prescription drug and vision exam coverage, dental plan, an employee assistance program (EAP), life insurance options, flexible spending account options, and long term care insurance. The current state contribution covers the cost of the employee's "core" medical, dental and basic life insurance; employees may obtain optional coverage for his or her self or eligible dependents at additional costs.
Paid Time Off
New employees earn 15 days of vacation, 12 sick days, 10-11 holidays (depending on election cycle). Employees who have been employed by the state for longer than 10 years can earn 18 days of vacation per year, and increases for time of service up to 24 days of vacation earned per year. Part-time employees earn time on a prorated basis.
State employees receive the follow paid holidays:
- New Year's Day
- Martin Luther King Day
- Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veteran's Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
- State General Election Day
Unused vacation leave
Annual leave accrual is tied to the length of employment, but caps at 384 for the longest tenured employees, who are then paid out at a full hourly rate when they leave their job. There is not a cap for sick leave which may be accumulated and is paid out for 25 percent of the hours are paid out at the employee's current hourly rate.
In 2010, 13,000 public employees have accrued funds through unused sick and vacation leave. The top ten employees have a combined 3,200 hours of sick leave, and two employees expect pay outs of $82,000 and almost $70,000.
Public v. Private sector
Montana reported an increase of 0.06 percent of residents living in poverty in 2009, up to 15.1 percent from 14.5 percent in 2008.
- See also: Montana public pensions
Membership in the Montana Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) is mandatory for most state employees and begins on the first day of employment. Mandatory contributions to PERS are tax deferred and may not be refunded for any reason before termination of covered employment.
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, the American Enterprise Institute and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
|PEW (2008)||AEI (2008)||Kellogg (2009)|
- See also: Montana sunshine lawsuits
The Montana Public Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Montana.
The Montana Open Meetings Law 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: Montana FOIA procedures.
- MT.gov, "Agency Listing," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Elected Officials," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Directory," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Agency Directory," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "CAFR," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Budgets," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Department of Revenue," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Lobbying," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Ethics," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Term Contracts," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Contracts," accessed January 21, 2012
- MT.gov, "Solicitations," accessed January 21, 2012
- US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
- "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
- Montana Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
- 2008 Montana Public Employment U.S. Census Data
- Montana Watchdog, State employees make case for higher pay to House committee, Jan. 31, 2011
- Montana Watchdog, Governor, unions propose plan for 4 percent raise in 2012-2013, Nov. 10, 2010
- Watchdog, 10 Census workers from Montana attend $90,000 Vegas meeting, Sept. 28, 2010
- Health and Life Insurance (dead link)
- Salary and Benefits Overview Information (dead link)
- Vacation (dead link)
- Holidays (dead link)
- Watchdog, Looming payouts raise questions about Montana unused time off policy, Oct. 25, 2010
- Montana Watchdog, More Montanans fall below poverty level in 2009, Census Bureau study find, Sept. 30, 2010
- Retirement (dead link)
- Watchdog, Top Montana retiree gets more than $100,000 in pension benefits, Aug. 30, 2010
- "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States," accessed January 4, 2011
- Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
- Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)