When it comes to providing spending data online, Idaho is the worst.
That’s the conclusion from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group.
The group rated the states on their online databases. And while PIRG senior analyst Phineas Baxandall said “most states still have a lot of room for improvement,” that is especially true for Idaho.
One of five states to “earn” a failing grade, Idaho earned only six out of a possible 100 points.
According to the report, failing states such as Idaho “have transparency portals or other spending information sites that are not checkbook-level and provide limited or superficial information about government expenditures. … These states have little information beyond copies of pre-purchase orders that allow citizens to monitor whether or not a government department would be overpaying for a certain good or service if they purchased this way.”
Idaho has a list of open state contracts available online. An online checkbook has been a point of disagreement in past legislative sessions. Controller Donna Jones has pushed for posting the checkbook, but legislative budget-writers have balked at the $250,000 cost.
One Western state that did earn an A-minus from PIRG, Arizona, created a transparency site for $72,000 in startup costs (plus existing staff time). The annual costs for the site are $90,000, according to the PIRG report.
PIRG released its transparency report in conjunction with Sunshine Week, a national campaign organized by media and public interest groups to highlight the value of open government.