Louisiana only one of five states with “A” grade

A United States Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) ranks Louisiana’s Transparency and Accountability website, LaTrac, as number four nationally. PIRG sought to grade all 50 states on how well they “provide online access to information about government spending.”

Governor Bobby Jindal set LaTrac in motion in 2008 through executive order BJ 2008-2, which he authorized via legislation from the 2008 special legislative session on ethics reform.

“We created and continue to improve this valuable tool to provide Louisiana’s citizens with easily accessible and up-to-date information on state government expenditures,” says Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater. “Given the fiscal challenges states are confronting, it’s more important than ever to have transparency and accountability over how taxpayer dollars are spent.”

Louisiana is one of only five states graded in the “A” range, and it is the only state to receive a perfect score for tax expenditure information. PIRG says that Louisiana is a leader in providing information that is easily searchable and detailed for government contracts, tax subsidies, and grants to businesses.

Out of 12 different criteria, Louisiana scored an “A-” (92 out of a possible 100 points), tying with Arizona for the fourth best score.

Also this week, Louisiana was the beneficiary of a similar award from the Sunshine Review, a non-profit organization that promotes state and local government transparency. Its “Sunny Award” went to St. Charles Parish’s official website, stcharlesgov.net.

The St. Charles website was one of 112 on the list, and received a perfect “A+”, up from a “B-” one year ago.

Sunshine Review determined rankings by using various transparency criteria, including readily accessible information on the parish budget, meetings, elected officials, administrative officials, permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records and local taxes.

Robert Ross is a researcher and social media strategist with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contacted at rross@pelicanpolicy.org, and you can follow him on twitter.