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Texas ranked 14th for its government spending transparency website, according to “Following the Money 2018: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the eighth report of its kind by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group.
The report graded each state’s transparency website from “A” to “F” based on its content and user-friendliness. This year, for the first time, we worked with focus groups to see how well the ordinary Americans could navigate the sites. With that new standard, most states’ grades dropped from our previous report.
“When states are transparent about how they spend tax dollars, we all win: the state saves money, it can operate more efficiently and effectively, and citizens can feel more confident in their government,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Ed Fund State Director, “That’s why we are so pleased to highlight Comptroller Hegar's leadership on this issue.”
“Texas is one of just two states in the nation with citizen-centric reporting, and the Transparency Stars program is a perfect next step to increasing local transparency,” says Scoggin. “We thank Comptroller Hegar for his leadership and look forward to working with him moving forward."
“Texas state government is a $110 billion-a-year enterprise with complex funding sources and a dizzying variety of expenditures. I've made our transparency program a key priority. We provide massive amounts of government data that organizations such as PIRG, TPPF and CPPP as well as individual voters and taxpayers can use to understand and weigh the actions of state and local governments,” says Comptroller Hegar.
“Transparency isn't a Republican issue or a Democrat issue — it’s a fundamental component of good government, and we take it seriously at the Comptroller’s office. We’re proud that the folks at the Public Interest Research Group have recognized our commitment to opening the state’s books to the public in easily accessible and user-friendly formats. We know technology moves quickly and we are committed to continually expanding and improving our transparency efforts to ensure Texans can rely on us to give them the information they need and deserve,” says Comptroller Hegar.
The report found that many states’ websites lack features that make them intuitive for users, such as a full search function, standardized data descriptions and interactive tools.
Texas qualifies as an Advancing state, largely due to the age of the website, which at its time, was innovative and cutting edge, but over the years has been outpaced by advancements in website functionality. Texas still scores highly on transparency itself, and with an update of its website, will again be top in the nation.
“These sites can often be confusing for citizen users. Our focus groups put transparency websites to the test and found only a handful meet the expectations of a 21st century user.” said Rachel J. Cross, a Frontier Group analyst and report co-author.
To visit Texas’ transparency website, click here: https://comptroller.texas.gov/transparency/spending/
To read the full report: https://texpirg.org/reports/txp/follow-money-2018
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