Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a new website last week, meant to shine “sunlight” on the state’s finances. Sunshine.Illinois.gov is the state’s first foray into a comprehensive transparency site where detailed information about state expenditures, grants, pubic facilities’ inspection reports and more can be searched by citizens.
Gov. Quinn said the Illinois Sunshine Portal is part of his administration’s continuing efforts to make Illinois more accountable.
“We’ve worked to make state government more transparent and responsive to the needs of everyday people,” said Governor Quinn. “With National Sunshine Week starting Monday, it is fitting that we launch the Illinois Sunshine Project to ensure that our state government takes all steps necessary to make information as accessible as possible.”
Other features of the Illinois Sunshine Portal include, campaign finances and campaign donation listings, consumer complaints, Child Care Center Inspections, and a list of registered lobbyist in the state.
According to Sunshine Review, a non-profit group that monitors state and local government transparency initiatives, less than 1 percent of the over 5,000 state and local websites meet transparency standards as laid out by the “10-point Transparency Checklist.” The Transparency Checklist has features that any citizen should be able to find on their government or school district website, including budgets, meeting times, names of elected officials, permit and zoning records, and taxes, among others.
To those less-than-one-percent state, county, and city websites that meet all of the transparency criteria, the Sunshine Review awards “Sunny Awards.” According to Mike Barnhart, President of Sunshine Review, the awards were created to spotlight the best government websites and underscore standards that all governments can and should meet.
“Access to information empowers every citizen to hold government officials accountable for the conduct of the publics’ business and the spending of taxpayers’ money. Official accountability is the corner stone of self government and liberty,” Mr. Barnhart says on the Sunny Awards website.
Out of the 50 states websites, more than 3,140 counties websites, 805 city websites, and 1,560 school districts the group monitors, only fourteen received perfect scores. Florida School Districts fared well, bringing home four awards, meanwhile Washington was the only state website to receive a perfect score.
For a complete list and to find how your state, city, county or school district compares, go to: http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Main_Page