Saturday, September 27, 2008

FOIA Friday - a day late - Campaign Disclosure Project

Sorry for being a day late with the FOIA Friday...but I think this news was worth waiting for.

The Campaign Disclosure Project has released its state grades on campaign disclosure for 2008, noting that access to state-level campaign finance information has improved dramatically since 2003 due to the increase in electronic filing of campaign disclosure reports.

The Campaign Disclosure Project seeks to bring greater transparency and accountability to money in state politics. The project is a collaboration of the California Voter Foundation, the Center for Governmental Studies, and the UCLA School of Law and is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Washington State earned an A in 2008 and has ranked first in each of the five Grading State Disclosure studies. California and Michigan also earned As in 2008. Tennessee earned the distinction of being the most improved state since 2003 and Montana improved the most in the last year.

Ohio earned a B grade and was ranked 12th, down from our 10th place ranking last year. The report says the decline in ranking was primarily due to improvements from other states.

Grades in the Subcategories:

C+ in Campaign Disclosure Law, rank: 27
A+ in Electronic Filing Program, rank: 1
A+ in Disclosure Content Accessibility, rank: 2
C+ in Online Contextual & Technical Usability rank: 19

Ohio’s grade in the Online Contextual and Technical Usability category dropped from a B- to a C+ due to a slight decline in usability test performance in 2008, though the test occurred prior to an attractive redesign of the disclosure site in 2008. The site provides excellent information about what data can be found online, and also gives site visitors the ability to easily compare finances across all campaigns from 1996 to the present. One area that could be further improved is the index of a candidate’s reports; amended reports are not clearly labeled and the starting and ending dates for each reporting period are not displayed.

→ Quick Fix: Add the starting and ending date for each reporting period in the index of a candidate’s reports.

Congrats, Ohio!

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