BATON ROUGE - LaTrac, Louisiana state government's transparency and accountability website and online state spending database, tied for fourth best in the nation according to a report released Wednesday by the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the result of a "comprehensive study" that graded "all 50 states on how well they provide online access to information about government spending."
The creation of LaTrac was first set in motion by Governor Bobby Jindal, through an executive order (BJ 2008-2) issued on his first full day in office, and authorized by legislation (Act 20) during the 2008 special legislative session on ethics reform. LaTrac, which can be accessed at www.latrac.la.gov, launched in November of 2008 and since then has undergone several upgrades, with new features added.
"We created and continue to improve this valuable tool to provide Louisiana's citizens with easily accessible and up-to-date information on state government expenditures," said Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater. "Given the fiscal challenges states are confronting, it's more important than ever to have transparency and accountability over how taxpayer dollars are spent, so it's also gratifying to see Louisiana recognized as a leader in that effort."
Louisiana was one of only five states graded in the "A" range, and was among those that U.S. PIRG called "leading states [that] provide information that is highly searchable, and include detailed data about government contracts, tax subsidies and grants to business." Based on a scorecard using 12 different criteria, Louisiana scored a grade of A- (92 out of a possible 100 points), which tied with Arizona for the fourth best score, behind only Kentucky (96), Texas (96), and Indiana (93).
U.S. PIRG's announcement, which coincides with "National Sunshine Week," can be found online at http://www.uspirg.org/news-releases/tax-and-budget/tax-and-budget-news/washington-d.c.-report-card-ranks-50-states-on-transparency-of-spending.
An interactive Transparency Website Scorecard detailing each state's grade can be found at http://www.uspirg.org/follow-the-money-map.