Ky. wins top rating for openness in government spending

By The Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky garnered the top grade among states for its openness in allowing the public to track government spending, a consumer-advocacy group reported yesterday.

The report issued by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group rated the states in providing online access to government spending information.

Kentucky received the only A grade among the states, and the report called the Bluegrass state a trendsetter in timely disclosures on its Web site meant to promote government transparency.

The state's Web site includes state-agency budgets, salary information for state employees plus databases for grants, contract information and line-item expenditures.

The Web site has been available since Jan. 1, 2009, and has had several million hits since its inception, according to a spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Most information on the Web site is updated twice daily and is maintained by the state Finance and Administration Cabinet.

"I'm proud of the efforts we have made, along with the bipartisan support of all of the state's executive branch constitutional officers and Kentucky's judicial branch, to put our checkbooks online for public view in a comprehensive and user-friendly manner," Beshear said.

The report said spending transparency "checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government and promotes fiscal responsibility."

At least 32 states currently mandate that residents be able to access an online database of government expenditures with "checkbook-level detail," it said.

All 50 states were surveyed. Receiving B grades were Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, Missouri and Pennsylvania.