In the news

WISPIRG Foundation
|
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By
Patrick Marley

Madison - Wisconsin is one of five states that received an "F" Tuesday for how it makes government spending available online.

As it has in recent years, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group reviewed how states did at readily making information available about spending, grants, contracts and economic development awards.

Wisconsin joined California, Colorado, Hawaii and North Dakota in getting the lowest marks. The report called those states' spending websites "limited and hard to use."

Seven states - including Wisconsin's neighbors Illinois and Michigan - received "A" grades.

"The government of Wisconsin should be transparent about its spending," said Bruce Speight, director of PIRG's Wisconsin arm. "In Wisconsin, taxpayers have little to no information about state spending."

The state provides some information through its Contract Sunshine website, but it's criticized for being incomplete and difficult to use. Gov. Scott Walker plans to launch a new program soon called "Open Book" that is supposed to provide detailed information about state spending online.

Spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said the website is in production and should be available soon. She said the state was working on tasks for the website and its data, such as protecting against the disclosure of personal information of state employees and contact information of domestic abuse victims.

"The governor is committed to transparency and an 'Open Book' with state agency spending compiled for the public to view," Webster said.

Speight said he is hopeful program will be a success. But, he said, "We have seen no details, so it's hard to say whether that will be an improvement or not."
 

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