Idaho earned last place and an “F” ranking in an analysis of government transparency released today. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group study focuses on how easily the public can get information about government spending.
“The main thing is that Idaho is one of the four states that does not have checkbook-level expenditure information,” Tax and Budget Associate Ryan Pierannunzi explained. “We consider that the very basic thing that all states should have.”
Idaho also doesn’t have a designated transparency website. Pierannunzi said that leaves the state’s purchasing website as the best thing available, but that site gives only general and limited information. (It provides a list of government contracts, for example.) “What really should be out there is how much has the state spent, on what has it spent it, and when,” Pierannunzi said.
Also worth noting: Idaho was one of only three states that didn’t respond when U.S. PIRG sent its initial findings to state officials, requesting comment. The survey went to Bill Burns, an administrator with Idaho’s Department of Administration, and Mark Little, the state purchasing manager. StateImpact tried to reach them both this afternoon. Little was out of the office. Burns has not called back.
In his final assessment of where Idaho stands, Pierannunzi offered a cautious zinger. “I would say, because of its complete lack of much of anything, Idaho is a bit backwards when it comes to providing the information that we look for,” he said. But there’s hope. “Certainly we’ve seen a lot of states go from failing to leading. For example, West Virginia has an ‘A.’ Last year it received an ‘F.’ Being a small state is no excuse for not having a transparent government.”