How Can County Officials Improve Transparency?

By Caleb Taylor

How can Faulkner County officials improve transparency?

ACRE Policy Analyst Mavuto Kalulu discussed solutions to this question and steps officials have already taken in an op-ed published in the Log Cabin Democrat on April 16.

Kalulu mentioned Faulkner County Circuit Clerk Crystal Taylor (no relation to the author) as an example of an official who has improved transparency in Faulkner County. Taylor began publishing her office’s monthly expenditures online in January.

Kalulu also praised city of Conway officials for launching an Open Checkbook website in May, 2018.

Kalulu said:

All other public offices should follow the good example set by the Circuit Clerk’s Office. A 2018 Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE) assessment of web-transparency titled “Access Arkansas: County-Level Web Transparency” which I co-authored, gave Faulkner a score of 0.48 on a scale of 0 to 1 which is like scoring 48 percent on an exam. This lack of fiscal transparency is not specific to Faulkner County. Overall there is a deficiency of web fiscal transparency at the county level in Arkansas. In fact with a score of 0.48 Faulkner county ranks 4th in the state behind Washington, Baxter and Pulaski counties. At the time of the publication of our report only 8 counties had their most current budgets online and only 2 counties had their audited financial statements on their websites. Twenty-seven counties had no financial information online. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for residents to see how elected officials plan to spend tax dollars and, perhaps more importantly, how they actually spend the dollars.”


You can read the full op-ed here.

Interested in more of our work on transparency? Check out ACRE’s new policy brief, “Let the Sun Shine In: Improving Access to Arkansas Counties’ Financial Information,” which shows what an average Arkansan would experience when attempting to collect county financial information.

More ACRE research on this issue can be found on our Transparency page.

Related Work