Categories
NewsTracker

Tennessee Gets ‘B’ For Usefulness of Gov’t Websites

Tennessee landed in the middle of the pack in a new ranking of online transparency – whether public information like contracts, lobbying costs, and meeting minutes were available online.

The state scored 70 percent, or a B, on the 2013 Transparency Report Card, a national study put out by Sunshine Review, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit. That put Tennessee 24th among the states, coming in behind Hawaii but ahead of Alaska.

California, Washington and Illinois topped the list.

Pulling down Tennessee’s overall ranking were school districts, whose websites scored a paltry 51.5%, or C-, on the group’s scale. The state scored a B for its state website, B- for counties’ websites, and C+ for cities’.

Categories
Education Featured NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

TN School Districts Flunk Transparency Review

The school district websites for Memphis, Jackson-Madison County and Sevier County flunked a nonprofit group’s review on financial transparency.

A lack of online budget and contracting information or reports on academic progress contributed to those school district’s ‘F’ grades from Sunshine Review, a group that promotes government transparency. For its report card scores, the group checked websites for information like current and former budgets, phone numbers and email addresses for board members, and audits.

In announcing its grades Tuesday, the group gave a particularly disapproving glare to the Memphis City Schools website, finding “the search function rarely generates relevant results,” and “eventually the website crashed.” The Memphis city schools are set to merge with Shelby County Schools next year.

The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System emerged as a bright spot in the report. The district earned an A-, the highest grade among Tennesee school districts reviewed, for making readily available current and archived meeting agendas, budget and tax information and graduation rates. For anyone who can’t find the information they need, the steps to filing a public records request were posted.

Sunshine Review gave a D+ grade overall to the 11 school district sites it reviewed. The website said the state as a whole did better, scoring a B in a grade weighted heavily by information available on state government.

View the list of scores and an explanation of how the review was conducted here.