City Website Scores C- from Transparency Group
The Sunshine Review has scored the City of Covington's official website as having a "C-" grade based on its evaluation system. Sunshine Review describes itself on its website as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency. The Sunshine Review wiki collects and shares transparency information and uses a "10-point Transparency Checklist" to evaluate the content of every state and more than 6,000 local government websites.
Those ten items on the group's transparency checklist are budgets, open meeting laws, elected officials, administrative officials, building permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records, and taxes. The organization released its 2013 report card this week.
Covington's website was among several other government-related sites evaluated by Sunshine Review which ranked the Commonwealth of Kentucky's transparency as a whole as forty-seventh in the country, along with Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota being ranked the lowest.
California was ranked first in the research that included looks at websites of state, county, city governments and school districts. Kentucky scored straight C's.
“Transparency empowers citizens,” said Michael Barnhart, President of Sunshine Review, in a news release. “Citizens are entitled to crucial information on how the public business is conducted and how public money is spent. Without this information, voters cannot hold government accountable. Without transparency accountability is impossible."
The review says of Covington's website that the good elements include: contact information for elected officials, meeting minutes and agendas are posted, contact information for administrators is available, building permits are posted online, and it instructs citizens to contact the city clerk's office to make public information requests.
The bad: full audit reports are not posted and budget, tax, contracts, and lobbying information is not available online.
Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro, Bowling Green, and Frankfort were evaluated with Bowling Green's "B" being the highest score.
As for school districts, the survey only looked at Kenton County Schools and Boone County Schools in Northern Kentucky. Each scored a C. Covington Independent Public Schools was evaluated in 2010 and scored a D, but has since launched a more comprehensive website.
Check it out for yourself: Sunshine Review - Kentucky results