“Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts with private entities for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, grants, and other forms of spending. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that state funds are well spent. In recent years, state governments across the country have created transparency websites that provide checkbook-level information on government spending meaning that users can view the payments made to individual companies and details about the goods or services purchased. These websites allow residents and watchdog groups to ensure that taxpayers get their moneys worth from deals the state makes with companies. In 2013, for the first time, all 50 states provide some checkbook-level information on state spending via the Internet. In 48 states all except California and Vermont this information is now searchable. Just four years ago, only 32 states provided checkbook-level information on state spending online, and only 29 states provided that information in searchable form. This report, U.S. PIRG Education Funds fourth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states are closer than ever before to meeting the standards of Transparency 2.0 encompassing, one-stop, one-click checkbook transparency and accountability. Over the past year, new states have opened the books on public spending and several states have pioneered new tools to further expand citizens access to critical spending information. Many states, however, still have a long way to go to provide taxpayers with the information they need to ensure that government is spending their money effectively.”
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