June 26, 2009

What is your state's transparency rank?

Do you ever wonder how Nevada compares to other states in terms of transparency? Well, now you can find out.

The Center for Public Integrity has released its updated report that gauges how transparent each local government is. To come up with the rankings, they looked at "… state statutes, interviewed ethics officials and used a 43-question survey that measures public access to information on legislators’ employment, investments, personal finances, property holdings, or other actitivities outside the legislature."

If rankings aren't enough for you, check out this interactive map.

The biggest surprise: Louisiana.

After languishing at the 44th spot in 2006 and at the 46th spot in 1999, it has rocketed to the top, becoming the most transparent state in the nation. Anybody out there know what happened? Was there a "throw the bums out" wave of sentiment that got rid of the old-guard and brought in the reformers (Gov. Jindal being a good example) after Hurricane Katrina?

I was also surprised to see Vermont in dead last. You'd think that a tiny state in the Northeast with a healthy civic culture would do better than that.

Our own Silver State came out near the bottom at 42. Not terribly surprising but definitely disheartening.

There is little reason for almost half of the states to receive failing grades in these surveys. What needs to happen to change this? Do we need some sort of independent, non-partisan council to enforce/strengthen transparency laws? In many states allowing elected officials to police themselves is simply not working.

(Thanks Sunlight Foundation)