Transparency

Transparency Index

ACRE’s Newly Updated Transparency Index is Inspiring Officials Across the State

Two media outlets covered how their counties’ online transparency rankings changed in our second annual Online Transparency Index, coauthored by ACRE Policy Analysts Dr. Mavuto Kalulu and Joyce Ajayi, released last month.

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

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

“Access Arkansas: County-Level Web Transparency” by Joyce Ajayi, Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, and Terra Aquia

Click to view index publication page.

This inaugural index ranks all Arkansas counties by how much financial, political, and administrative information their websites contain.

Arkansas counties earned an F grade in the 2013 Transparency Report Card produced by Sunshine Review. Ajayi, Kalulu, and Aquia hope their index will motivate Arkansas county governments to improve access to this important information for their constituents.

ACRE Research Papers

“Improve Transparency in Arkansas: Every Arkansas County Needs Fiscal Data Available On-Line” by J.T. Schrock and Dr. David Mitchell

Click to view publication PDF.

The authors surveyed each Arkansas county’s web presence, and did not find a consistent structure or consistent content for the websites. Many Arkansas counties have no significant web presence. One-third of the counties had no website for the county government in any form. Only a handful of the remaining counties had made any fiscal and budgetary information available on their website. Schrock and Mitchell estimate that no more than 11 percent of the voting public are likely to see the Annual Financial Report under Arkansas’s current requirement. ACRE’s solution for this problem would be to increase the county-government web presence for every county in Arkansas, and especially to include government financial data, made available to the public anytime, on demand. This information should be presented in a quality and structure that can be easily understood by anyone with a reasonable background in reading financial or business data. Finally, the information should be complete and be inclusive of all areas of government responsible to the county judge.

Radio

  • ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu and Program Coordinator Terra Aquia were on Conduit News Radio on September 26, 2018, discussing their recently released transparency index.

Op-Eds and Commentary

  • “A Step at a Time”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on December 27, 2019. In the article, Kalulu discusses the benefits of Act 546.
  • “In Public View”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on September 20, 2019 discussing the benefits of county government transparency in the context of the Pope County casino construction deliberations.
  • “Stop Corruption”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on August 5th, 2019. Kalulu discussed solutions to this question and four steps officials can take to improve transparency in the state. 
  • “Open the Books: Can’t Catch It If You Can’t See It”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on January 28, 2019. Kalulu discusses the benefits of transparency to county governments, particularly how beneficial the improved management of tax dollars can be. He points out that a great way to get this benefit is to publish county budgets online.
  • “Open the Books! Let Public See County Fiscal Data”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on November 19, 2018. Kalulu explains the results of ACRE’s recently released transparency index and the reasons why county officials should care about improving their fiscal transparency.
  • “For Transparency: Should Be Proactive with Data”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu and Program Coordinator Terra Aquia, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on September 29, 2018.
  • “Open the Books”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu and Program Coordinator Terra Aquia, published in the Log-Cabin Democrat  on July 8, 2018.
  • Out in the Open: Transparency Keeps Us Honest”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Mavuto Kalulu and ACRE Research Assistant Terra Aquia, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on November 16, 2017.
  • “No App for That: Government Needs Transparency”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu and ACRE Research Assistant Terra Aquia, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on September 15, 2017.
  • “Transparency’s Sake: Be Ye Good Stewards of Our Money”: op-ed by ACRE policy analyst Mavuto Kalulu and UCA Assistant Professor of Accounting Ashley Phillips, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on June 23, 2017.
  • “A Transparent State: Make Accountability a Priority”: op-ed by ACRE Policy Analyst Jacob Bundrick, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on January 19, 2017.

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