Government transparency assessment (2012)

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Transparency grading process

There are primarily three reports that evaluate transparency at a state level. Sunshine Review (Sunshine Review) evaluates states according to our state transparency checklist. This checks what kind of data is available on the government website, ranging from budget to how to file for a public record request.

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. These 13 items include:

  • Detailed expenditure information, including individual payments made to vendors.
  • Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by contractor or vendor name.
  • Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by type of service or item purchased, category, or government fund.
  • Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by branch of government.
  • A copy of the contract or detailed summary information is included for the expenditures.
  • Checkbook-level expenditure data from previous fiscal years.
  • Awardee-specific grants and/or economic development incentives are included in the checkbook tool or elsewhere with specific award amounts.
  • Information can be downloaded for data analysis.
  • The state's tax expenditure report is linked on the website.
  • Expenditures from quasi-public agencies are included on the website.
  • Financial information for some local governments is accessible.
  • A link is provided to the state's website that tracks funding related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • 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. Sunshine Review also asked for information on ethics, usability, taxes, and information on elected officials.

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.

The third report is 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.[1]

2012 transparency assessment

State Sunshine Review Sunshine Review
State Integrity Investigation State Integrity
Investigation Letter
Alabama (Sunshine Review) 60% C+ 78.00% C+ 72.00% C-
Alaska (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 49.00% D- 68.00% D+
Arizona (Sunshine Review) 60% C+ 90% A- 60% D+
Arkansas (Sunshine Review) 80% B 8.00% F 68.00% D+
California (Sunshine Review) 100% A 49.00% D- 81.00% B-
Colorado (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 69.00% C- 67.00% D+
Connecticut (Sunshine Review) 80% B 85.00% B 85.00% B
Delaware (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 81.00% B- 70.00% C-
Florida (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 59.00% D 71.00% C
Georgia (Sunshine Review) 80% B 79.00% C+ 50.00% F
Hawaii (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 73.00% C 74.00% C
Idaho (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 6.00% F 61.00% D-
Illinois (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 81.00% B- 74.00% C
Indiana (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 93.00% A- 70.00% C-
Iowa (Sunshine Review) 80% B 19.00% F 78.00% C+
Kansas (Sunshine Review) 60% C+ 68.00% C- 75.00% C
Kentucky (Sunshine Review) 50% C 96.00% A 71.00% C-
Louisiana (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 92.00% A- 72.00% C-
Maine (Sunshine Review) 80% B 54.00% D- 56.00% F
Maryland (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 75.00% C+ 61.00% D
Massachusetts (Sunshine Review) 100% A 92.00% A- 74.00% C
Michigan (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 83.00% B 58.00% F
Minnesota (Sunshine Review) 60% C+ 78.00% C+ 69.00% D+
Mississippi (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 80.00% B- 79.00% C+
Missouri (Sunshine Review) 80% B 72.50% C 72.00% C-
Montana (Sunshine Review) 80% B 7.00% F 68.00% D+
Nebraska (Sunshine Review) 40% D 83.00% B 80.00% B-
Nevada (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 70.00% C 60.00% D-
New Hampshire (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 49.00% D- 66.00% D
New Jersey (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 78.00% C+ 87.00% B+
New Mexico (Sunshine Review) 50% C 75.00% C+ 62.00% D-
New York (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 89.00% B+ 65.00% D
North Carolina (Sunshine Review) 80% B 87.00% B+ 71.00% C-
North Dakota (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 66.00% C- 58.00% F
Ohio (Sunshine Review) 80% B 55.00% D 66.00% D
Oklahoma (Sunshine Review) 80% B 78.00% C+ 64.00% D
Oregon (Sunshine Review) 80% B 87.00% B+ 73.00% C-
Pennsylvania (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 82.00% B- 71.00% C-
Rhode Island (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 49.00% D- 74.00% C
South Carolina (Sunshine Review) 60% C+ 66.50% C- 57.00% F
South Dakota (Sunshine Review) 70% B- 83.00% B 50.00% F
Tennessee (Sunshine Review) 80% B 51.00% D- 76.00% C
Texas (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 98.00% A 68.00% D+
Utah (Sunshine Review) 80% B 87.00% B+ 65.00% D
Vermont (Sunshine Review) 60% C+ 51.00% D- 69.00% D+
Virginia (Sunshine Review) 80% B 81.00% B- 83.00% B-
Washington (Sunshine Review) 100% A+ 85.00% B 83.00% B-
West Virginia (Sunshine Review) 90% A- 91.00% A- 68.00% D+
Wisconsin (Sunshine Review) 100% A+ 50.00% D- 70.00% C-
Wyoming (Sunshine Review) 80% B 44.00% F 52.00% F


  1. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation,