Henry Brown

Actual Report/Study

Title: Following the Money 2013
How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending

Authors: Benjamin Davis, Frontier Group, Phineas Baxandall and Ryan Pierannunzi,

Executive Summary

Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts with private entities for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, grants, and other forms of spending. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that state funds are well spent.

In recent years, state governments across the country have created transparency websites that provide checkbook-level information on government spending – meaning that users can view the payments made to individual companies and details about the goods or services purchased. These websites allow residents and watchdog groups to ensure that taxpayers get their money’s worth from deals the state makes with companies.

In 2013, for the first time, all 50 states provide some checkbook-level information on state spending via the Internet. In 48 states – all except California and Vermont – this information is now searchable. Just four years ago, only 32 states provided checkbook-level information on state spending online, and only 29 states provided that information in searchable form.

This report, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s fourth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states are closer than ever before to meeting the standards of “Transparency 2.0” – encompassing, one-stop, one-click checkbook transparency and account – ability. Over the past year, new states have opened the books on public spending and several states have pioneered new tools

Download from US PIRG Educational Fund Organization (~1.9 Meg PDF)