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Colorado gets a C-plus for offering information on government spending

Author: Joey Bunch - April 26, 2018 - Updated: April 25, 2018

spending(Courtesy of the CoPIRG Foundation)

When it comes to making its spending decisions transparent and easy for the public to understand, Colorado gets a C-plus in a new scorecard from the CoPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group.

Researchers for the consumer advocacy groups looked at information available to the public that’s available online. The C-plus is a drop from the A-minus Colorado received in 2016.

The state lost points for ease of use for online data and the amount of disclosure around economic development.

“The public has a right to know how and when their tax dollars are being spent so that they can hold elected officials and civil servants accountable for ethical, effective stewardship of funds,” said Danny Katz, director of the Denver-based CoPIRG Foundation. “While Colorado is providing the basic information, more needs to be done to increase the comprehensiveness of the information and to make finding the information more intuitive and easy.”

Colorado ranked 20th nationally in the report. The measure was started in 2010 to highlight transparency for taxpayers “while also restoring public confidence in government and prevent misspending and pay-to-play contracts,” CoPIRG said.

The organization said:

Colorado received the maximum allowable points for having a one-stop, state spending website with checkbook level details on spending, including economic development subsidies. Colorado lost points because the spending transparency website lacks functional multi-tiered search options, has some challenges around downloading data, and fails to disclose the actual public benefits of economic development subsidies.

Ohio and West Virginia were the highest ranking states in the report. Wyoming finished last and was one of four states that received an F.

“If an ordinary citizen can’t actually find the information they’re looking for, and understand it without needing a background in state bureaucracy, then it doesn’t matter how many data sets are put online,” stated Rachel J. Cross, a Frontier Group analyst and co-author of the report. “Many states are realizing that in order to serve their residents, they need to do more than just dump data online– they need to provide a useful tool for understanding how state dollars are spent.”

You can read the entire report by clicking here.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.