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State Integrity Investigation releases preliminary data on government transparency

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Do you ever get the feeling that you don't know the first thing about your state's government? More than likely, its by no fault of your own; U.S. state governments are notoriously closed-off, and even more difficult to compare to one another.

So for the first time, extensive data looking at transparency in U.S. state governments has been made public. The State Integrity Investigation released its preliminary findings — a set of more than 300 indicators to determine the risk of government corruption — for all 50 states.

What is an ‘indicator’ of good transparency? Here are a few of the categories in each state’s questionnaire:

  • Public access to information
  • Political finance
  • Accountability in each of the three branches of government
  • Internal auditing
  • Lobbying disclosure

See how your state fared in each of these areas, and 9 others on the StateIntegrity.org website.

“We wanted to open the research and reporting process up to the public to ensure our results were as balanced and as accurate as possible,” wrote Nathaniel Heller, executive director at Global Integrity, a partner for the project.

“We made early decisions to publish the names of all of the lead reporters in each state, to find engaged and informed citizens to help review the draft data, and to make pre-publication data available for public feedback before the official project launch. Many of those decisions were novel for Global Integrity, and we are anxiously awaiting early feedback to see whether some of this project's experimental techniques can be applied to other efforts,” Heller continued.

The project makes its official debut, with letter grades for each state and a nationwide ranking, on March 19, 2012.

Until then, visit the website to predict the state you think will score highest, or lowest, in the country for overall risk of government corruption — you could win a Kindle Fire just by participating! You can also ‘like’ the State Integrity Facebook page, or follow State Integrity on Twitter.

The State Integrity Investigation is a partnership of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.