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R.I. earns ‘D-’ in transparency

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PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island is one of the worst states in the nation at providing its residents with clear access to government spending data, according to a new report by the Rhode Island Public Interest Research Group.

The report, “Following the Money 2012,” assigned each state a grade of “A” to “F” based on the content and accessibility of their government spending websites.

The Ocean State earned itself a “D-” rating from the advocacy group, coming in second to New Hampshire for New England’s worst transparency site.

Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Arizona had the most comprehensive transparency websites in the nation, according to the report.

“State governments across the country continue to be more transparent about where the money goes, extending checkbook-level disclosure of data on spending to contracting, tax subsidies, development incentives and other expenditures,” said RIPIRG’s Ryan Pierannunzi. “But Rhode Island still has a long way to go.”

The report described Rhode Island as a “lagging state” when it comes to transparency. The website is not searchable by keyword, activity or department and fails to link to tax expenditure reports.

The Ocean State’s rating dropped 17 points from last year because the site failed to make its checkbook searchable by purchasing department or agency – a criteria added to this year’s rating system.

“The state of Rhode Island should continually improve access to online information about government spending,” said Pierannunzi. “Given the state’s budget problems, Rhode Islanders need to be able to follow the money.”

To read the report, visit www.ripirg.org

RIPIRG, government spending, transparency, PIRG, government spending website, rhode island public interest research group, u.s. public interest research group

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richard@langseth.com

Some of Rhode Island's quasi public agencies are the worst offenders. The Rhode Island Interlocal Trust (insurance company for towns and state-sponsored independent government agencies) took over the health insurance function for many cities and towns last year. Then it asked the Attorney General if it could duck out of the Open Meetings and Public Records Act requirements. Nothing ever came of that fiasco.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | Report this
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