On Wednesday, the United States Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) announced the findings of their annual study of government transparency among the states-and Texas earned this year’s top ranking.
Texas’ high marks came mainly as a result of:
– Texas Transparency.org, a comprehensive transparency portal that has everything from what the state spends and on what, to where the state gets its money, to which local governments are doing their part to open up their books.
– Letting the public view “details on grants and/or economic development incentives, details on specific public benefits intended to be produced, [and] provide[s] all copies of contracts for the goods or services purchased” by individual state agencies.
– Having a downloadable checkbook. In fact, it was this reason alone that Texas edged out Kentucky for the #1 spot.
Of course, Texas’ achievements in the area of government transparency are more than just a “feel good” story. Transparency is helping to save taxpayer dollars. As noted in the report, “the [Texas] Comptroller was able to utilize the transparency website in its first two years to save $4.8 million from more efficient administration.” This came from getting rid of duplicative services, eliminating waste (like pagers), and receiving more competitive bids.
There’s no doubt that Texas is on the right path when it comes to government transparency-and this latest PIRG is just the latest confirmation of that. Congratulations to Comptroller Susan Combs and her team for a job well done!