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County Transparency Online: Faulkner Rises, Independence Tumbles

By Caleb Taylor

Arkansas media outlets are taking notice of the big changes in which counties rank highest for online transparency. Faulkner County climbed from 8th most online-transparent county in 2018 to 6th in 2019, while Independence County tumbled all the way from 17th place to 71st. 

These rankings come from the 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, released last month.

Two media outlets covered how their counties’ online transparency rankings changed in the 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, released last month.

Faulkner County 

An article in the Log Cabin Democrat by Jeanette Anderton published on Dec. 27, 2019 entitled “Report shows Faulkner County improved its transparency” detailed the improvements Faulkner County made from the 2018 to the 2019 index. 

From the Log Cabin Democrat:

The Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE) at the University of Central Arkansas released its second annual county web transparency report which indicates Faulkner County has improved its transparency. While the county scored below 0.500 in 2018, it improved to 0.599 in 2019, making it the sixth most transparent county in the state. Faulkner County was named one of the top 10 most-improved counties in the report – going from 0.365 in 2018 to 0.599 this year.”

Independence County 

In an article in the Oddfellow by Rachael Sowers published on Dec. 20, 2019 entitled “County’s Transparency Ranking Drops From 17th to 71st,” analyzed Independence County’s decline in the rankings in 2019.

Sowers reports:

Independence County went from a transparency ranking of 17th in the state in 2018 to 71st in the state in 2019, decreasing from a score of 0.231 down to 0.029 for transparency of important public information online, according to a report published by the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics at the University of Central Arkansas. The rankings and scores are determined by ‘how much financial, political and administrative information their websites contain.’ Currently, the county’s website gives an error when accessed.”

Transparency in government tends to reduce corruption, improve fiscal responsibility and improve the relationship between government and its residents.

Interested in how your county’s online transparency ranks compared to the rest of the state? You can find out here. To find out what one law that went into effect in 2020 that will make county governments in Arkansas more transparent check out ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu discussing the benefits of Act 564 in an op-ed “A step at a time,” published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 27, 2019.

For more of our research on transparency, go here.