6/15/2011 CHICAGO (June 15, 2011) — The city of Evanston scored the highest of five Evanston-area governments in the latest leg of the Illinois Policy Institute’s “Local Transparency Project,” which grades governments on the availability to the public of vital community information.
The city earned a score of 91.7 out of 100 possible points for making information about taxes, Freedom of Information Act requests, contracts and other community matters readily available on the city’s website. Meanwhile, Evanston Township earned a record low score of 3.125 for making available almost no information about how it spends $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars.
“The city of Evanston has recorded the second highest transparency score ever,” said Brian Costin, director of outreach at the Institute. “But in Evanston Township … that is the absolute worst we’ve ever graded out of the nearly 100 local government entities we’ve graded in Illinois so far.”
Evanston-Skokie District 65, Oakton Community College, Evanston Township
High School District 202 and Evanston Township also were included in
City of Evanston
Evanston-Skokie District 65
Oakton Community College
Evanston Township High School District 202
Average Score or Change
For democracy to work, citizens need access to the information about what government does. Proactive transparency is the best way to educate society about the actions of government and keep voters informed. That’s why the Local Transparency Project grades public agencies on the availability of the following information: elected and administrative officials; public meetings; how to file a Freedom of Information Act request; budgets; expenditures; salaries and benefits; lobbying; and taxing levels.
How the Local Transparency Project works: Government bodies are graded after local residents initiate the audit, and then are informed of their scores. After the first audit, governments have two months to improve their scores by following good government guidelines from the Institute. The agencies are then graded for a second time.
Local government officials said the audit provides a good rubric for what information should be publicly available.
"The Illinois Policy Institute’s project has been helpful to me in identifying what others may see as important information to have available on our website," said Pat Markham, communications director for Evanston-Skokie District 65.