All fifty states have set up websites that report on the way they’ve implemented the stimulus bill. Anyone who visits more than a handful of these sites will be immediately struck at the remarkable variety in quality. Some have clearly taken a great deal of thought, time and effort. Others seem like afterthoughts.
After a first stab at evaluating websites last July, Good Jobs First, tackled the task again in January. The organization is devoted to promoting government and corporate accountability in economic development. The broad conclusion of its new website evaluation: “A growing number of state ARRA sites deliver on President Obama’s promise that the stimulus plan would be carried out with an ‘unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.’ Yet some remain half-hearted efforts that provide taxpayers little useful data on the largest federal stimulus since the new deal.”
Some states may well have improved their sites since the release of this report. We, personally, know of a handful that are in the process of doing so now. But we think that the report’s interesting findings are still valid. Some of the points that jumped out at us:
- “More than half the states (28) now have some kind of project mapping feature on their ARRA site. Of these, 14 have interactive maps with significant project details, while 13 have such maps with more limited details.”
- “Only three states – – Kentucky, Maryland and Wisconsin – juxtapose the geographic distribution of spending with patterns of economic distress or need within the state.”
- “Despite the ready availability of Recovery.gov ARRA employment data, 10 states have no jobs data on their websites: Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina and the District of Columbia.” (Note: the report counts Washington D.C. as a 51st state)
- Only five states – Connecticut Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi and New Hampshire provide the full texts of at least some ARRA contract awards.”
As of the report’s publication, the half dozen top rated states were: Maryland, Kentucky, Connecticut, Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The bottom six were North Dakota, Washington D.C., Missouri, Alaska, Vermont and Louisiana.
Stay tuned. In coming days we’ll be sharing an interesting conversation with Beth Blauer, the director of the Maryland StateStat program. She oversees the website that was rated number one by Good Jobs First.