Evaluation of Kansas state website

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

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngC
Budget P
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Usability P
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Ethics
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying P
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Public records P
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Taxes
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State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on January 15, 2012.

The good

  • The site has a search function, but it is difficult to find documents like the budget and audits.
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[1]
  • A state directory is posted with contact information for state employees.[2]
  • The state has a transparency website[3] and links to an KansasOpenGov, an outside organization's transparency site.
  • The current budget is posted.[4]
  • The current audit is posted.[5]
  • Bid opportunities are posted,[6] along with awarded contracts.[7]
  • Ethics information is posted, with lobbyist information available.[8]
  • Information is available on how to make public records requests.[9]
  • Tax information is posted.[10]

The bad

  • Prior years' budgets are not available.
  • State data and documents can be difficult to find.
  • No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.
  • Contacts and forms for public records requests are not gathered in an easily accessible place.

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 68 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]

Kansas received an overall grade of C, or 75%. It ranked 9 out of the 50 states.[13]

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

KansasOpenGov

The Kansas Policy Institute has created KansasOpenGov, an official transparency website that draws information from official government sources. The site contains the state checkbook, payroll register, education spending, and property tax information. The site functions independently from the official state website.[14]

Voters

State voter registration data shows that over 130,000 voters, or 8 percent, of Kansas' 1.7 million voters are registered as "inactive" due to not voting recently or having an invalid mailing address.[15] Six counties showed more registered voters then the last collected census data. The counties were: Smith, Graham, Cherokee, Rawlins, and Nemaha.[16]

In 2010, there were also 14 cases of the deceased voting.[17]

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes Year URL
Governmental Ethics Board State Lobbying and campaign finance 2011 http://www.kansas.gov/ethics/Campaign_Finance/Campaign_Contributor_Data/index.html
Kansas Legislative Research Department State Appropriations Reports 2011 http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/Approp_Subcomm_links.html
KanView State Expenditures, revenues, agency budgets 2011 http://www.kansas.gov/KanView/
Procurement Contract List State Contracts 2011 http://da.ks.gov/purch/Contracts/
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions 2010 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?y=2010&s=KS
KansasOpenGov Kansas Policy Institute Spending, contracts, school data 2012 http://kansasopengov.org/

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Kansas and local governments in the state employed a total of 241,713 people.[18] Of those employees, 172,212 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $584,592,296 per month and 69,501 were part-time employees paid $55,185,557 per month.[18] Nearly 60% of those employees, or 144,587 employees, were in education or higher education.[18]

State Employee Benefits

The state of Kansas provides its employees with many benefits. To qualify for benefits, an employee must be in a permanent position and work more than 1,000 hours per year.[19]

Vacation The maximum vacation accrual earned each payroll period and the maximum vacation leave balance that may be accumulated are as follows:[19]

5 years and less than 10 years || 4.7 hours ||176 hours
Length of Service Maximum Biweekly

Vacation Accrual Per Payroll Period

Maximum Accumulation
Less than 5 years 3.7 hours 144 hours
10 years and less than 15 years 5.6 hours 208 hours
15 years and over 6.5 hours 240 hours

At the end of the last payroll period paid in each fiscal year, up to 40 hours of any accrued vacation leave that exceeds an employee’s maximum accumulation of hours shall be converted to sick leave, and any time over that is forfeited.[19]

Holidays Holidays for the State service include: [19]

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • the Friday following Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Sick Leave Eligible full-time employees’ sick leave accrues at a maximum rate of 3.7 hours per biweekly payroll period. Eligible non-exempt employees are in pay status less than 80 hours in a biweekly payroll period will accrue sick leave based on a prorated schedule.[19]

Insurance

Health Employees have a 60 day waiting period between first date of employment and when they are eligible for health benefits.[19]

Employees may choose from several medical plans including HMO, PPO and Qualified High Deductible Health Plan options. Enrollment in the Qualified High Deductible Health Plan also requires enrollment in a Health Savings Account (HSA). Prescription drug coverage is provided for all employees/participants enrolled in any State of Kansas medical plan.[19]

For full time employees, the State of Kansas generally contributes 95% of the cost of single Health Plan coverage and 45% of the additional cost for dependent coverage. The amount contributed by the agency for part time employees is generally 75% of the amount contributed for full time employees.[19] Kansas state government employees pay six percent of the cost of their health care versus private sector plans which usually ask employees to cover on average 23 percent of the costs.[20]

Dental Dental coverage is only available for employees/participants enrolled in medical coverage.[19]

Vision Employees may enroll in the vision coverage level of their choice regardless of their medical or dental insurance enrollment.[19]

Life All benefits-eligible state employees have group life insurance coverage. The state pays the entire cost of the coverage. The group life insurance coverage provides an insured death benefit, which is currently 150% of the employee's annual rate of compensation.[19] All benefits-eligible employees may elect to purchase optional group life insurance coverage through additional payroll deductions.[19]

All benefits-eligible state employees have long-term disability insurance coverage paid for fully by the state.[19]

Other Benefits

KanElect allows the employee to pay for Health Plan premiums, non-reimbursed health care expenses, and dependent daycare expenses with pretax dollars.[19] There are three benefit plans under KanElect[19]:

  • Pretax Premium Option - allows the employee to pay for the cost of (the State of Kansas) Health Plan premiums with pretax or after-tax dollars.
  • Health Care Flexible Spending Account - allows the employee to use pretax dollars to pay health care expenses allowed by the IRS but not reimbursed by medical, dental, prescription drug or vision insurance.
  • Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account - allows the employee to use pretax dollars to pay for work related daycare expenses.

Pensions

  • See also: Kansas public pensions]]

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 Kansas pension fund will run out of money in 2021.[21] Should the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System funds run out of money then, the cost the following year would be $2.5 billion, which would be 23% of state revenue.[22]

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[23], the American Enterprise Institute[24] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[25]

In Thousands
PEW AEI Kellogg (2009)
$8,279,168 $21,827,991 $20,100,000

Other information from the Pew Center on the States Feb. 2010 publication "The Trillion Dollar Gap":

State Pension Funding Levels 2008 (figures are in thousands)[26]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$20,106,787 $8,279,168 $607,662 $395,588
State Retiree Health Care and Other Non-Pension Benefits Funding 2008 (figures are in thousands)[26]
Latest liability Latest unfunded liability Annual required contribution Latest actual contribution
$316,640 $316,640 416,039 $5,105
Underfunded pension liabilities
Number of pension plans Pension assets ($bn) Stated liabilities ($bn) Funding status (% of tax revenue)
1 $10.3 $20.1 -372%

This data is based on projected data from 2008 census data.[27] In 2008, $1.94 trillion was set aside for pensions, but it is estimated that states have $5.17 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Rate of Return

Kansas presumes an 8.00% return rate on its pension investments.[26]

Public Records

See also: Kansas sunshine lawsuits

The Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Kansas. Statutes 45-215 - 45-223 passed by the Kansas legislature define the law.

The Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statutes 75-4317 - 75-4320 define the law.

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

External links

References

  1. Kansas.gov "Elected Officials," Accessed January 15, 2012
  2. Kansas.gov "E-mail Directory," Accessed January 15, 2012
  3. Kansas.gov "KanView," Accessed January 15, 2012
  4. Kansas.gov "Budget," Accessed January 15, 2012
  5. Kansas.gov "Financial Reporting," Accessed January 15, 2012
  6. Bids," Accessed January 15, 2012
  7. Kansas.gov "Contracts," Accessed January 15, 2012
  8. Kansas.gov "Ethics," Accessed January 15, 2012
  9. Kansas.gov "Open Records Brochure," Accessed January 15, 2012
  10. Kansas.gov "Taxes," Accessed January 15, 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. Kansas Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. KansasOpenGov
  15. Kansas Watchdog, Kansas has almost 138,000 inactive voters, Oct. 25, 2010
  16. Kansas Watchdog, Six Kansas counties have more voters than census voting population, Oct. 26, 2010
  17. Kansas Watchdog, Dead voters in Kansas?, Oct. 29, 2010
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 2008 Kansas Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 19.13 19.14 Active State Employees Benefit Guide
  20. Kansas Watchdog, Kansas State Employees Get Discount Health Care, Sept. 9, 2010
  21. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  22. Yahoo! Finance “11 state Pension Funds That May Run Out of Money Oct. 18, 2010
  23. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States, accessed January 4, 2011
  24. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  25. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" Feb. 2010
  27. Northwestern University, The Liabilities and Risks of State-Sponsored Pension Plans, May 2010