Nebraska ranks dead last on a new national study that grades the 50 states based on the information available on its government websites.
Kristin McMurray, editor of the Sunshine Review, says the criteria involve what she calls “common sense” items people would want to see on websites for city, county and state governments and for school districts.
“We look for the most current budget, budgets for the last three years, at a state level, we look at usability, how to contact elected officials, how to contact the executive branch, information on ethics investigations, audits, contracts,” McMurray says. “Public records turned out to be a really hard one to find information about.”
Nebraska got a grade of C-minus, up from a D last year, but the Husker state still ranked at the bottom for government transparency with Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and South Dakota. McMurray offers some tips to Nebraska government web managers.
“The state could start off by providing more contact information for public information officers,” McMurray says. “If they’re not going to be publishing the information online, they should at least let citizens know how they can request it. They need to be posting more information about budgets. They’re not archived for the past three years. The site wasn’t very usable.”
The government websites were graded, A to F, measuring available content available against a checklist of information all governments should provide to citizens. Transparency empowers citizens, she says, and people are entitled to crucial information on how public business is conducted and how public money is spent. Without this information, voters cannot hold government accountable.
The top five best performing states were California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington.
To read the report and see a state-by-state analysis with charts, visit: