Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization that declares itself dedicated to state and local government transparency, has released a 2013 Transparency Report Card grading every state and the largest counties, cities and school districts within each state on the availability of information on government websites.
Government websites were graded “A” to “F” measuring available content available against a checklist of information all governments should provide to citizens.
Tennessee gets a grade ‘B’ overall and ranked 24th in the nation. Tennessee’s graded counties got a ‘B-‘ and cities a ‘C+’.
The full report is HERE.
H/T Mike Donila, who posts some commentary on Knoxville and Knox County ratings.
News release from state Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today announced the launch of its transparency website, OpenECD.tn.gov. The website is designed to be a user-friendly site where the public can easily access public information and documents pertaining to ECD grants and incentives.
“Our department wants to provide the public with as much information as possible,” Bill Hagerty, commissioner, ECD, said. “It is important to Governor Haslam, and to all of us, that we operate as an open and transparent government. These documents have always been available to the public, but we wanted to make them more easily accessible to the public, and we have accomplished that with OpenECD.tn.gov.”
OpenECD.tn.gov will be updated quarterly. The public can sign up to receive email alerts notifying the recipient when information has been added and/or updated. Visit OpenECD.tn.gov for more information.
About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: tn.gov/ecd. Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tnecd.
The school district websites for Memphis, Jackson-Madison County and Sevier County flunked a nonprofit group’s review on financial transparency, says TNReport.
A lack of online budget and contracting information or reports on academic progress contributed to those school district’s ‘F’ grades from Sunshine Review, a group that promotes government transparency. For its report card scores, the group checked websites for information like current and former budgets, phone numbers and email addresses for board members, and audits.
With two legislative sessions under his belt, we have learned that when you elect Bill Haslam, you elect a coterie of advisors, opines Metro Pulse.
In Knoxville he listened to Bill Lyons and Larry Martin, and got sound advice more often than not. Pilot Oil’s corporate interests had limited overlap with the city’s powers, so greed’s tentacles barely tickled Haslam.
At the state level, they have gotten a grip. In Nashville he listens to different advice and operates with less disclosure.
While Haslam is to be commended for making Amazon collect sales taxes, his overall stance toward corporate interests has been supplication. He has weakened Tennessee’s already laggard regulatory agencies and launched an attack on transparency. At least he is ashamed enough to want to hide the financial interests he and his cronies operate from.
…Haslam has expanded the governor’s power to write “FastTrack” checks with limited disclosure, so financial ties among developers, contractors, local politicians, and administration officials get obscured.
…But erosions in accountability and enforcement do not tell the full story. Bill Haslam can be a passionate regulator when his financial interests allow it. Right now the state website urges Tennesseans to “only use licensed home contractors.” “Always ask for their Tennessee license ID number and verify their status online at verify.tn.gov. Ask for a written contract and proof of insurance.” Good advice. Too bad citizens can’t verify enforcement of water pollution permits in nearby rivers and creeks so easily.