Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to government transparency, released the winners of the fourth annual Sunny Awards. The award, which honors the most transparent government websites in the nation, went to 247 government entities with Florida receiving the most Sunny Awards.“The Sunny Awards recognize governments that make transparency a priority. The winners of the Sunny Awards are cities, counties and school districts that proactively share the public information that empowers citizens and keeps government accountable to the people,” said Michael Barnhart, President of Sunshine Review.For the 2013 awards, Editors at Sunshine Review analyzed more than 1,000 qualifying government websites and graded each on a 10-point transparency checklist. Editors looked at content available on government websites against what should be provided. They sought information on items such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. The winners of the Sunny Award all received an “A” grade during the extensive grading process.
Eight states earned nearly half of the 247 Sunny Awards given. The leading states were Florida (25), Virginia (19), Illinois (19), California (12), Georgia (12), Kansas (11), Oklahoma (10) and Colorado (9). In addition, 35 counties, 22 cities and 42 school districts from all over the country earned the coveted “A+” grade. Sunshine Review also analyzes official state government websites. However, no state received an “A” grade due to Sunshine Review’s 2013 “raising the bar” initiative, which includes additional budget requirements, online checkbook register and a FOIA compliance report.
Since beginning the Sunny Awards in 2010, Sunshine Review has given 613 awards to local and state governments. In 2012, Florida once again took home the most awards with other leading states including Texas (21), Illinois (19), Virginia (14), Ohio (10) and Pennsylvania (10). Florida won more Sunny Awards than any other state in 2011 and 2010 as well.
“Sunshine Review applauds the 247 winners of the Sunny Award and encourages every government to allocate the resources to improving their website transparency,” said Barnhart.
The Sunny Awards announcement falls during the annual of “Sunshine Week,” March 10-16, a period nationally recognized by hundreds of media and civic organizations, that celebrates the efforts of activists and the strides taken towards open government.