Seven States Fail to Make Full Online Disclosures in State Contracting

State Government Contract Assessment
A survey of the online availability of state government contracting information for all 50 states and the District of Columbia

Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming top a list of worst offenders in full online disclosure of state contracting information, according to a survey issued today by Ralph Nader and the Center for the Study of Responsive Law (CSRL).

The CSRL surveyed state government websites in order to discover which states provide the most information about their contracting details and processes. Illinois, Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, and Vermont were on the list of states with the best practices.

“This survey shows what has been done and what needs to be done to improve taxpayer access to information about state contracting practices,” said consumer advocate Ralph Nader. “Congress has made encouraging, although incomplete, progress with the passage of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency (FFAT) Act. Still needed are the full texts of these contracts – most states still fall short in mirroring the progress made on the federal level.” The FFAT was sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and cosponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama.

Nader has long-championed online posting of federal contracts. Nader pressed Bush and Clinton Administration officials, including Office of Management and Budget directors Mitch Daniels and Josh Bolten, to make voluntary disclosures before Congress mandated disclosure in 2006.

“Most states, even the best performers, failed to meet all of the criteria for optimal disclosure,” according to Barry Williams, the researcher who conducted the survey of state practices. “The Internet holds great potential for casting sunshine on many state processes, but this is one area where most states have simply not done enough to make vital information available to the taxpayers.”

The survey identified the following features as ‘optimal disclosure’: full text versions of the state contract; spending summaries; the name and location of the contract recipient; the corporate parent of the recipient; the amount and period of the contract; the program and funding sources of the contract; the type of transaction and award title; and, the place of performance. The survey analysis modeled the disclosures made by the federal government at http://www.USASpending.gov.

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