Transparency in key aspects of state government is improving, but there are still wide variations in the degree to which states are making full use of the Internet to disseminate information to the public. Only a few states have created high-quality disclosure systems, while many more seem to be resisting the great degree of openness that the Web makes possible. This is the overall finding of a review of selected state online disclosure practices conducted by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.
State governments are critical arenas for the public’s right to know, in part because they are a major force in the country’s political economy. They employ about five million people and spend some $1.5 trillion a year. They play a major role in regulating business and protecting the public, and they are often in the vanguard of public policy innovation. Making those activities more transparent is a vital public benefit.
In an effort to advance that goal, this report examines the quantity and quality of online information currently provided by state government agencies throughout the United States in three areas:
- Economic development subsidies awarded by state agencies (and by local governments as allowed and regulated under state law) to encourage the growth of business activity within their borders;
- State government procurement contract awards and private contractors providing those public goods and services; and
- Lobbying activity and lobbyists at the state level.