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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 16, 2013
Integrity Index: States Fail Watchdog Test
Better Government Association's state-by-state analysis shows government integrity laws lack strength, transparency and accountability.
The majority of states are failing miserably when it comes to enacting laws that enable regular citizens to fight corruption by attending public meetings, reviewing government documents and raising questions without fear of retribution, according to a national study released today by the Better Government Association, a Chicago-based non-partisan watchdog organization.
The Integrity Index, a comprehensive report issued by the Better Government Association (BGA) and sponsored by Alper Services LLC, analyzes laws from all 50 states in four key categories: Open Meetings, Freedom of Information, Whistleblower Protection and Conflict of Interest.
"The Integrity Index measures the level of commitment each state has made—or, more often, hasn't made—to the enactment of laws that helps citizens access their government and its documents, and hold elected officials accountable, which is the framework of integrity and the first step in combating political corruption," said Andy Shaw, President and CEO of the BGA. "Our findings show that current laws in most states are woefully inadequate, locking citizens out or forcing them to jump through unnecessary hoops as they attempt to exercise their fundamental democratic right to keep an eye on government."
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Surprise! Illinois ranks third in BGA Integrity Index
Better Government Association's state-by-state analysis gives Illinois higher scores for strength, transparency and accountability of integrity laws.
Despite a multitude of scandals, jailed ex-governors and a sordid political history, Illinois ranks as a top-tier state in the Better Government Association's (BGA) Integrity Index, when it comes to existing laws that enable regular citizens to fight corruption.
The third-place overall designation may come as a surprise for Illinois residents, but state lawmakers have toughened integrity laws as a result of public pressure to enact reforms aimed at preventing unethical behavior from occurring again, said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw, adding that Illinois isn't alone when it comes to attempting to legislate good government.
"The states with the worst reputations and sorriest histories of political corruption face strong demand to clean up their acts, so they pass new laws and strengthen old ones to create a framework of integrity," Shaw said. "But just because laws are put on the books doesn't guarantee that states are enforcing them effectively to prevent wrongdoing from occurring."
Despite taking third place in overall ratings, Illinois scored just 68.5 percent and no state attained a score higher than 70 percent, indicating that even the top states are still falling well short of their responsibilities to the public in providing the necessary tools to ensure transparency and accountability.
The Integrity Index, issued by the Chicago-based BGA and sponsored by Alper Services LLC, analyzes state laws in four key categories: Open Meetings, Freedom of Information, Whistleblower Protection and Conflict of Interest. In three of those four key categories, Illinois ranks in the top half of states, and earned Top 10 rankings for both Freedom of Information Act requests and Open Meetings Laws.
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