Las Vegas Sun

July 27, 2017

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Sun editorial:

So much for accountability

Nevada gets poor marks for Web site supposed to track how stimulus money is spent

Under the federal stimulus package signed into law this year, it’s estimated that $1.45 billion will be spent in Nevada. In light of this massive infusion of money, it’s essential that taxpayers are confident their dollars are being spent wisely.

One way to see where the money is going is through a state-run Web site. In this case, that would be a Web site overseen by the Gibbons administration.

Any guesses on how that’s coming along?

Did we mention that Gov. Jim Gibbons is involved?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to many Nevadans, then, that the state’s Web site tracking stimulus projects is getting panned.

The Las Vegas Sun’s Timothy Pratt reported Tuesday on a couple of critiques of Nevada’s Web site.

An investigative journalist at ProPublica, a Washington group, unfavorably compared Nevada with American Samoa, noting that the “tiny U.S. island territory that’s home to about 65,000 people appears well-poised to bare its projects to public scrutiny” ... “(in) contrast” to Nevada.

Phil Mattera, of the nonprofit group States for a Transparent and Accountable Recovery, which reviews all states’ stimulus Web sites as part of a larger effort to “ensure that the implementation of the (stimulus act) is transparent, accountable, fair and effective,” didn’t have kind words, either. Mattera said Nevada’s Web site is “less-developed than other states’,” Pratt reported, “with less of an effort to present information in a compelling, usable way.”

Gibbons’ deputy chief of staff, Mendy Elliott, acknowledged the Web site is deficient. She initially blamed it on the fact that officials had been busy with the Legislature. Later she told Pratt it was a lack of money, saying it would cost about $35,000 to hire a consultant to create a better Web site. “We don’t have an extra dime,” she said.

Instead of looking at government openness and transparency as some add-on expense, the Gibbons administration should view it as an essential part of governing. Indeed, one would think someone who likes to portray himself as a “fiscal conservative” would put a premium on making sure taxpayer money is being used appropriately. In Jim Gibbons we have a man who likes to play governor but doesn’t want any part of the heavy lifting required to run the state.

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