Right in the middle of Sunshine Week 2012 - a national effort to promote the importance of open and transparent government - a report card gives high marks to Michigan and West Virginia, but a failing grade to Ohio.
The report released Wednesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund gives West Virginia an A- and Michigan a B. Ohio received a D. Only 13 states had a lower score.
U.S. PIRG promotes what it terms Transparency 2.0, which involves online access to government spending. West Virginia's website, the report states, lets residents view payments to vendors, research some of the state's quasi-public agencies and track the state's economic recovery.
Michigan received a higher mark this year after linking its transparency site "to an interactive map that tracks economic development incentives, allowing residents to learn about government-funded projects in their county, information about how specific companies will spend the funds, and the estimated number of jobs to be created," according to the report.
Meanwhile, Ohio slipped 27 points, more than any other state, for failing to "make searchable the checkbook portion of the website and removed the link to the state's Recovery Act spending website."
There is reason for hope Ohio can improve its grade. Last year, West Virginia flunked the review by U.S. PIRG. The state auditor in Ohio does not have to look far for advice on how to improve financial transparency.