Sixth in the nation
Ohio earned a D+ in the State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government openness and accountability by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, but that modest score was actually good enough to place 6th in the nation. Alaska, which received a C, was No. 1. Michigan, among 11 states getting an F, was last.
In a 2012 State Integrity Investigation, Ohio got a D, which ranked 34th among the 50 states. Despite the apparent improvement, the two scores are not directly comparable due to changes made to improve and update the project and methodology, such as eliminating the category for redistricting, a process that generally occurs only once every 10 years.
The state did worst in simply providing overall public access to information, getting its only F in that specific category. Part of the reason for such a low score: unlike many states, Ohio has no statutory mechanism to monitor how officials are adhering to open government laws, no formal appeals process when access is denied and no serious repercussions if public officials violate these laws.
The tone has been set at the top.
As he was taking office in 2011, Gov. John Kasich tried to keep the public from seeing resumes of those who applied for jobs in his administration. He didn’t want to conduct his swearing-in in public, relenting only when newspapers protested. He will not share his calendar in advance, and doesn’t include political or other “unofficial” activities. And Kasich’s office won’t release even general spending information about taxpayer money used for State Highway Patrol security to protect the governor as he travels the country running for president.
When asked about Kasich’s record, press secretary Rob Nichols said in July: “Ohio is one of the nation’s leaders in government transparency, with some of the toughest, most comprehensive laws in the country to ensure that state and local government is accountable to the public.
“The administration is a careful steward of these essential principles and works carefully to make sure Ohio’s laws are enforced.”
While many state officials are responsive to information requests, the administration has several notable exceptions. “Overly broad,” a term originating in an obscure Ohio Supreme Court ruling, has become the operative phrase to deny requests for public records.