Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Kentucky’s Open Door website rated best in the nation – again
Beshear Administration’s transparency efforts recognized as standard in the reporting of public spending
FRANKFORT, Ky.– Gov. Steve Beshear’s groundbreaking e-transparency website, Open Door, has once again received top honors as a comprehensive, searchable portal that enables taxpayers to explore how government money is being spent. For the second year in a row, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest advocacy organization, has recognized the site, online at www.OpenDoor.KY.gov, as a leader in setting the standard for spending transparency on government expenditures.
“I’m very proud of my administration’s efforts to make government more accountable and transparent to the people,” Gov. Beshear said. “Given our nation’s difficult economy, citizens deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent and we created Open Door to give them such access. We remain committed to this high standard of open government and are proud that we may serve as an example to other states.”
In U.S. PIRG’s, Following the Money 2011 report, Kentucky and Texas share the honor of scoring 96 out of a possible 100 points, receiving the report’s highest ranking for states offering broad and detailed spending information. Kentucky also topped the ratings in 2010 and retained the honor again this year in spite of the use of more rigorous scoring criteria.
The report called Kentucky a “pioneer” that has “taken strides to remain at the head of the pack.” The website now posts a database of government-owned land parcels, and GIS and customizable maps for demographic data.
Shortly after taking office, Gov. Beshear issued an Executive Order in the spring of 2008 to establish the e-Transparency Task Force; a 14-member bipartisan panel charged with providing a more transparent and accountable state government. On Jan. 1, 2009, Kentucky’s Open Door was launched after a concerted, multi-agency effort, led by officials of the Finance and Administration Cabinet.
Since the site was first launched, improvements and enhancements have steadily been made. Significant upgrades included making it more user-friendly and adding significant new categories of information, such as comprehensive detail on state contracts, and up-to-date data on state employee salaries. In January 2010, the judicial branch also joined Gov. Beshear’s e-Transparency website. Open Door currently hosts information from both the executive and judicial branches, and all of Kentucky’s constitutional officers.
New in 2011, Open Door now also gives users the option to download expenditure records. This function allows users to download information by fiscal year, or by a search that they create.
“The transparency practices demonstrated through Open Door highlight Kentucky as a national role model in accountability and openness in the use of public funds,” stated Finance and Administration Secretary Jonathan Miller, who chaired the Governor’s e-Transparency Task Force. “Open Door itself is an outstanding example of government efficiency as only existing state resources were used to create the award winning site. No new funds were specifically dedicated to creating Open Door.”
The Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Office of Policy and Audit estimates that the Open Door website will eliminate 40 percent of the administrative costs of procurement assistance requests, and could reduce the costs associated with Open Records requests by as much as 10 percent.
The U.S. PIRG report coincides with Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information sponsored by the American Society of News Editors. Thirty-nine states provided feedback for the report.
To access the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s full report, Following the Money 2011, visit https://pincdn.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/d1b1c8a147fbf379dfc14c8c86a83e52/Following-the-Money-2011-vUS.pdf.