Oregon Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

OSPIRG Foundation

Oregon received an “A-” and ranked 2nd in the country for government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the OSPIRG Foundation. 

“State governments across the country have become more transparent about where public money goes, providing citizens with the information they need to hold elected officials and recipients of public subsidies accountable,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, OSPIRG Foundation’s Consumer and Taxpayer Advocate. “Oregon has become a leader.”

Based on an inventory of the content and ease-of-use of states’ transparency websites, the “Following the Money 2014” report assigns each state a grade of “A” to “F.” Oregon ranked 2nd nationally with a score of 93.5 out of 100. The leading states with the most comprehensive transparency websites are Indiana, Oregon, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Oregon and the other leading states distinguished themselves in spending transparency because they provide access to otherwise little scrutinized areas of expenditure. Six states, including Oregon, provide public access to checkbook-level data on the subsidy recipients for each of the state’s largest economic development programs, allowing citizens and public officials to hold subsidy recipients accountable by listing the public benefits that specific companies were expected to provide and showing the benefits they actually delivered.

Though Oregon is ahead of the curve on providing information about the largest economic development tax subsidies, there is still room for improvement.

“The Oregon transparency website continues to improve year after year, bringing more information to the public about how the state is spending public dollars,” said Meiffren-Swango. “Next year, Oregon could get an even higher score by providing comprehensive information about every economic development tax subsidy program.” 

The state’s transparency website is operated by the Department of Administrative Services. To visit the site, go to: www.oregon.gov/transparency.

To read the full report, go to: http://www.ospirgfoundation.org/reports/orf/following-money-2014 

Last month, OSPIRG Foundation released “Revealing Tax Subsidies 2014,” which details how well the state is providing information about economic development subsidies online. That report can be found at: http://www.ospirgfoundation.org/reports/orf/revealing-tax-subsidies-2014