Wisconsin gets a “D” in ranking of legislative websites

Among advocates for open government, it is often said that public officials should not get kudos for doing the minimum. If the law requires a certain degree of openness and the authorities oblige, they might avoid a kick in the shin but won’t likely get a pat on the back.

That may be the operative theory behind the “D” rating awarded the Wisconsin Legislature in a new 50-state ranking of legislative websites produced by the Sunlight Foundation, a national nonprofit group that promotes government transparency.

The searches and rankings of state legislative websites were done by the group’s staff and volunteers, as part of Sunshine Week, a national observance of open government. Possible scores ranged from “-2” to “+2,” with “0” representing the middle ground.

Wisconsin scored a “0” in all six survey categories: Completeness, timeliness, ease of access, machine readability, standards and permanence. Usually, this translated as meeting a minimal standard as defined by the group.

For instance, the Wisconsin Legislature’s “0” in completeness meant that its website provides a “full breadth” of access to basic information on bills, legislators, votes and committees. If it hadn’t included roll-call information on individual votes it would have gotten a “-1.”

On ease of access, Wisconsin’s website was deemed average, which meant that it was deemed neither “exceptionally well laid-out” nor “extremely difficult to use.”

And on permanence, the website’s “0” ranking meant that “legislator and committee information lacks a permanent location” but most of this can still be found.

The Wisconsin Legislature’s website archives data on bills, acts and legislative proposals going back to at least 1989-90. This can be found at https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/archive

In all, the Sunlight Foundation awarded eight As, 11 Bs, 20 Cs, six Ds, and six Fs. The states getting As were: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas and Washington. The F scores: Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Rhode Island.

The full list can be found at http://openstates.org/reportcard/. The group’s write-up on its results is at http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/03/11/openstates-report-card/.


Share on FacebookShare on Twitter
Pin it on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare via email

Related posts:

Tags: ,

Leave a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please keep your comments respectful and on topic.

About this blog

The latest from WisconsinWatch.org -- what we're doing and reading, experiments in journalism, public data and government sunshine, great investigative work from around the web, and news developments on projects we've done.

Follow us on Twitter: @WisWatch

View our newsletter archives.

Login

    Username:
    Password: