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Oregon received a “B-” for its government spending transparency website, according to “Following the Money 2018: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the eighth report of its kind by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group.
The report graded each state’s transparency website from “A” to “F” based on its content and user-friendliness. This year, for the first time, we worked with focus groups to see how well the ordinary Americans could navigate the sites. With that new standard, most states’ grades dropped from our previous report.
“When states are transparent about how they spend tax dollars, we all win: the state saves money, it can operate more efficiently and effectively, and citizens can feel more confident in their government,” said Charlie Fisher, with OSPIRG Foundation. “That’s why Oregon should continue to invest in accessible, comprehensive, online spending data.”
The report found that many states’ websites lack features that make them intuitive for users, such as a full search function, standardized data descriptions and interactive tools.
While Oregon has kept intact the transparency features that made it successful in the past, the new “real world test” highlighted flaws in the state transparency site’s searchability and user-friendliness. Transparent information is only as useful as it is accessible. In today’s digital world, state websites should aspire to be as usable as the many other sites the average citizen visits. Oregon’s site has the basic infrastructure in place but doesn’t allow users to easily find specific expenditures in the state checkbook. The state could most improve its transparency by upgrading its site’s user-friendliness and functionality.
“These sites can often be confusing for citizen users. Our focus groups put transparency websites to the test and found only a handful meet the expectations of a 21st century user.” said Rachel J. Cross, a Frontier Group analyst and report co-author.
To visit Oregon’s transparency website, click here: http://www.oregon.gov/transparency/Pages/index.aspx
To read the full report: https://ospirg.org/reports/orp/following-money-2018
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