Counties honored for transparency
Sixty-eight county government websites have been named Sunny Award winners for excellence in transparency, according to the National Association of Counties (NACo). County winners in the third annual award program were chosen from among 6,000 government websites by the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit that advocates for state and local government transparency.
The websites were graded on a “10-point transparency check,” according to the Sunshine Review. The checklist measures what content is available on government websites against what Sunshine Review editors believe should be provided. Editors sought information on items such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes.
Winners received a perfect A-plus score if their website includes every section required by Sunshine Review. They received an A-minus score if the website includes every required section except one.
Thirty-two counties received an A-plus score. Among the winners was Palm Beach County, Fla., which received a perfect score for the second consecutive year. The county’s website includes information about the budget, meeting schedules and contact information for the county commission, audits and a list of registered lobbyists.
Tulsa County, Okla., received an A-plus rating for the third consecutive year. The website includes information on taxes, zoning codes and the allocation of federal stimulus funds.
Thirty-six counties received an A-minus score, including Gwinnett County, Ga.; Franklin County, Ohio; and Lubbock County, Texas. Lubbock won its first award, with its website meeting every requirement except a section on lobbying.
Since its inception in 2008, Sunshine Review has analyzed the websites of all 50 states and more than 6,000 state and local entities. A total of 215 Sunny Awards were given to government websites in 2012. A complete list of Sunny Award winners is available at the Sunshine Review website.