NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES

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Shine More Light

By Mavuto Kalulu

Do you know how Arkansas state and local governments are spending COVID-19 relief funds received from the federal government?

In my most recent op-ed I commend the openness of the steering committees Governor Hutchinson created to advise on how to allocate the funds.  The two committees, the CARES Act steering Committee, and the ARPA Steering Committee have been broadcasting their meetings live and have also been archiving their past meeting online for residents to go back to. “Be Transparent: Shine Light on COVID-19 Relief Funds” published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Sep 27, 2021, highlights the need for a more detailed accounting of the funds. From my op-ed: 

“We need more than just the aggregated amounts allocated to the various programs. Alabama, for example, provides a breakdown of the recipients and the expenditures under each program. Another notable feature about Alabama is that Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) plans are reported on a website, crf.alabama.gov, which is solely dedicated to CRF reporting.

Others, such as Idaho, use their already existing transparency website. Arkansas also has a transparency website, transparency.Arkansas.gov, but this information is not on it.”

Why Care About the Transparency of COVID-Funds?

2021 study, “Transparency and Trust in Government: Evidence from a Survey Experiment” published in the Word Development Journal by Martin Alessandro, et al., that finds that increasing transparency helps improve trust in government. As I say in the op-ed: 

“When residents see what officials intend and do, they can more easily understand why public officials are making certain choices.”

You can read the rest of my op-ed here.

For more of our research on transparency, go here.