Courtesy: Detroit Free Press
(LANSING STATE JOURNAL/Scott Davis) - Last week, the Sunshine Review, a non-profit website that studies government transparency nationwide, gave Michigan a B- grade for its state government transparency in 2012 - a higher grade than the C+ it received for 2011.
It's also higher than the C+ awarded in 2010 to the Gov. Jennifer Granholm administration during her final year in office.
Sunshine Review officials increased the score for Michigan last year after the Snyder administration began disclosing more contact information for administrative officials on its web sites. The non-profit assessed transparency mostly by analyzing the
state's government web sites and the information they provide.
Despite the gain, Michigan ranked higher than only nine other states - including Vermont, New Mexico and Nebraska - and tied with 11 others.
Snyder administration officials welcomed the higher rating from the Sunshine Review. Officials say the administration has made greater transparency a priority in the past two years, fulfilling a promise Snyder made while campaigning for governor in 2010.
Since that time, the number of online state services has climbed from 325 to 410 - an increase of 26 percent - according to state officials. The state now provides the Open Michigan web site, www.michigan.gov/openmichigan, a repository of information related to state spending and performance measures.
"It's great to see that Michigan is being recognized for the hard work we have done to make state government more transparent," said Kurt Weiss, a spokesman for Snyder. "The state remains committed to meeting its goals of greater efficiency, effectiveness and transparency."
When including other government web sites into the mix, however, Michigan fell behind most other states. For the first time, the non-profit also analyzed school and local government web sites to calculate an overall state grade; Michigan earned a C+, ranking 34th highest nationwide.
Michigan's school districts and cities merited a C+, and counties were awarded a C, according to the non-profit.
Overall , the worst states were Alabama and Nebraska, and the best states were Washington and California.