by Max Brantley
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a report ranking the 50 states on on-line access to information about government spending.
Arkansas flunks. It's one of only five states graded F. In numerical scoring, it finished ahead of only Montana and Idaho and then just barely.
Arkansas does have an on-line checkbook project in the works. It is one of only four states without such a thing.
States aren't judged solely by whether they provide on-line access to a list of expenditures. The data should be searchable. Ready access should be provided to the economic development incentives a state has passed out. Copies of contracts should be on-line. Historical expenditures with vendors should be available. Off-budget agencies should be included.
Commentary on the flunkees other than improving Wyoming:
The other Failing states—Arkansas, Montana, Idaho, and Iowa—have transparency portals or other spending information sites that are not checkbook-level and provide limited or superficial information about government expenditures.
Aside from Iowa’s data on tax expenditures and economic development grants, these states have little information beyond copies of pre-purchase orders that allow citizens to monitor whether or not a government department would be overpaying for a certain good or service if they purchased this way.