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The Law That Makes Arkansas Counties More Transparent in 2020

By Caleb Taylor

What one law that went into effect in 2020 will make county governments in Arkansas more transparent?

ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu discussed the benefits of Act 564 in an op-ed “A step at a time,” published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 27, 2018.

Act 564

The law requires all Arkansas counties to post their annual budget on a website owned or maintained by the county, the state, or the Association of Arkansas Counties beginning on January 1, 2020. Counties are already required to publish such information in their local newspaper. 

Kalulu wrote:

Are Arkansas counties the worst in the nation when it comes to publishing public information online? Six years ago, the answer was yes, according to a nationwide assessment of government web transparency, conducted by the nonprofit Sunshine Review. Thankfully, the Arkansas Legislature took a step toward ridding Arkansas of that label. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Arkansas counties are required to publish their financial information online. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Spencer Hawks, who worked with the Association of Arkansas Counties to improve financial transparency.”

Kalulu spoke in favor of the changes before the Arkansas House City, County and Local Affairs Committee on March 7, 2019.

Kalulu also said the law would allow residents to more easily see how their county officials use their tax dollars. Kalulu said:

The more knowledgeable residents are, the more empowered they are to hold elected officials accountable. In addition, elected officials become more prudent when they know that residents are watching their resources. This can lead to less corruption and more fiscal discipline.”

Access Arkansas: County-Level Web Transparency

Interested in how your county’s online transparency ranks compared to the rest of the state?

You can find out through the just-released second annual Online Transparency Index from the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics, co-authored by ACRE Policy Analysts Dr. Mavuto Kalulu and Joyce Ajayi.

For more of our research on transparency, go here.