In the news

OSPIRG Foundation
Statesman Journal
Tracy Loew

Oregon gets a grade of B+ for financial transparency, a report issued Wednesday states.

"Following the Money 2012" ranks the states on their efforts to put taxpayer spending online.

Only seven states scored better than Oregon, which moved up in the third annual rankings, according to Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which compiled the report.

Between 2010 and 2012, the number of states putting their checkbooks online increased from 32 to 46, according to the report. States also made their transparency sites user-friendly and posted other elements of government spending.

Oregon began posting state revenue and spending details on a central, searchable Web site on Jan. 1, 2010. Lawmakers unanimously passed the bill requiring the site in 2009, but did not provide any extra money to develop of maintain it.

Oregon's website is user-friendly, but lacks the bredth of information available in leading states, according to the report.

For example, the state's website does not provide contracts or detailed descriptions for expenditures.

"State governments across the country continue to be more transparent about where the money goes, extenting checkbook-level disclosure of data on spending to contracting, tax subsidies, development incentives and other expenditures," said Matthew Orchant, OSPIRG Policy Associate. "But Oregon still has plenty of room for improvement."

Meanwhile, Salem, Albany and Beaverton are among 214 government entities nationwide to win a "Sunny Award" from Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization advocating for government transparency.

The organization graded government websites on availibility of budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes.

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