South Carolina ranks ninth in a national survey of state fiscal transparency websites, according to a report by two groups advocating good government.
The report, by U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Frontier Group, reviewed how successful states are at providing online public access to government spending records.
State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom’s fiscal transparency site scored an 87 percent, with S.C. as one of only six states to provide the public with an annual financial report that summarizes state finances.
Open-records requests declined by two-thirds upon the creation of Eckstrom’s transparency website in 2008, saving time invested by staff and saving an estimated tens of thousands of dollars, the non-profit groups reported.
S.C. is also among few states that pulls from its existing budget to create and maintain its website, according to the report.
“Some states have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their transparency websites,” said Eckstrom in a statement.
“But we’ve always used existing internal resources for our site to save taxpayers money. This report proves that it’s not necessary to spend lots of money on a high-priced website to provide high-quality information to the public.”
“We could make an ‘A’ this coming year if we receive credit for new information we’ve recently added that provides details on financial incentives the state awards to attract film productions in South Carolina,” said Eckstrom, a certified public accountant.
“A lot of work goes into keeping the site up to date and constantly improving it with information that’s not just new but that’s also useful to the public,” he said, praising his staff. “My staff tackles that challenge head on.”
The transparency site serves as the state’s public checkbook, providing detailed information about agency spending, including payments to vendors.