Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2014

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Politics:

State of Nevada website gets D- for transparency

The State of Nevada's open government website is among the least transparent in the country when it comes to disclosing how taxpayer dollars are spent, according to a report released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Nevada received a D- for its transparency, beating out only Kansas, Ohio, Idaho, Alaska and California. Indiana, Oregon and Florida were rated the most transparent.

The group reviewed 46 states' open government websites created to improve transparency and accountability on government spending. It ranked the states based on the types and amount of information available and how easy the sites are to use.

While Nevada's website provides basic information about its budget and spending, the state received low marks for not disclosing financial information about tax incentives. The state’s website has no information on spending from its economic development Catalyst Fund, personal property tax abatements, an employee hiring incentive program or an employment training program.

Nevada’s score dropped 10 points compared to last year in part because it still does not provide specific information on recipients of economic development dollars.

The report estimated that Nevada spent $78,000 developing its website, which is overseen by the Department of Administration, and continues to spend $30,000 per year to update it. Costs for transparency websites vary from $8,000 to $500,000 in start-up costs.

Victor Joecks, executive vice president of Nevada Policy Research Institute, which monitors government transparency, said the more information the state provides, the more informed voters become.

“The reason transparency websites are important is it allows members of the public who are working full time in other professions to check in,” Joecks said. “It’s one of the ways for citizens to check up on the government to see how it’s spending our money.”

A PDF of the report is available online.

A Nevada Department of Administration official was not immediately available for comment.

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