Sunshine Review honors state’s transparency, Florida leads the pack


As part of Sunshine Week, a week devoted to promoting government transparency, Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to government transparency, released the winners of the fourth annual Sunny Awards. The award, which honors the most transparent government websites in the nation, went to 247 government entities, with Florida receiving the most Sunny Awards.

For the 2013 awards, Editors at Sunshine Review analyzed more than 1,000 qualifying government websites and graded each on a 10-point transparency checklist. Editors looked at content available on government websites against what should be provided. They sought information on items such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. The winners of the Sunny Award all received an “A” grade during the extensive grading process.

Eight states earned nearly half of the 247 Sunny Awards given. The leading states were:

-Florida      – 25 awards
-Virginia    – 19 awards
-Illinois      – 19 awards
-California – 12 awards
-Georgia     – 12 awards
-Kansas      – 11 awards
-Oklahoma – 10 awards
-Colorado     – 9 awards

In addition, 35 counties, 22 cities and 42 school districts from all over the country earned the coveted “A+” grade. Sunshine Review also analyzes official state government websites. However, no state received an “A” grade due to Sunshine Review’s 2013 “raising the bar” initiative, which includes additional budget requirements, online checkbook register and a FOIA compliance report. As CivSource reported this week, New York may be on the path to being a contender for this award next year with the upcoming release of its “Checkbook 2.0” website.

Florida has won the most Sunny Awards every year of the competition since it began in 2010. Other close contenders include Texas, Illinois and Virginia.