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NEW REPORT: Texas Comptroller’s Office Receives "A-" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending
AUSTIN - Texas Comptroller’s office received an A- when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2016: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the seventh annual report of its kind by Texas Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.
This year’s report recognized more states as leaders than ever before with all but two states providing checkbook-level data for one or more economic development subsidy programs and more than half of states making that subsidy data available for researchers to download and analyze. Several states achieved perfect or near perfect scores based on this year’s criteria.
“Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has taken strides toward greater spending transparency,” said Melissa Cubria, the Director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group.
Texas Comptroller’s office provided researchers with feedback after the initial evaluation of state transparency websites. Based on an inventory of the content and ease-of-use of states' transparency websites, the “Following the Money 2016” report assigns each state a grade of “A” to “F.”
This year, Texas introduced new data sets for actual and projected public benefits for economic development subsidies. The state is also particularly innovative in how it encourages municipal spending transparency. Through a “recognition program,” the state rewards local governments that meet certain standards of online transparency.
"We believe taxpayers have a fundamental right to know exactly how and why governments are spending their money," said Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. "So, we are continuing to expand the state’s transparency offerings, and recently launched a new program, Transparency Stars, to honor local governments that follow our lead."
“Texas’ online spending transparency efforts are paying off. Transparency leads to better informed citizens and a more efficient government,” said Cubria. “Our research found that top-ranked states, including Texas, have been making steady improvements to their transparency websites over the years, giving taxpayers unprecedented access to information on where their tax money goes.”
Many states that have created or improved their online transparency have typically done so with little upfront cost. In fact, top-flight transparency websites can save money for taxpayers, while also restoring public confidence in government and preventing misspending and pay-to-play contracts. Texas officials reported that their transparency portal cost $310,000 to create and is maintained entirely using the Comptroller Office’s existing budget.
Texas’s transparency website is operated by the Comptroller of Public Accounts' Office. To visit it, click here: www.texastransparency.org.
To read the full report, click here.
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