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The transparency of county websites: a content analysis.

The percentage of the population that is accessing the Internet has continued to grow; therefore, there is an increased expectation for governments to have information and services available to the public via the Internet. A stated benefit of e-government is that it enhances transparency by increasing citizen access and knowledge of government processes (Pina & Royo, 2010, p. 4). However, transparency in relation to e-government is a relatively new field of study. Although there are many positive projected outcomes theorized by the availability of government information online, most e-government literature revolves around efficiency and effectiveness. This analysis of local government websites focuses on the role those websites have in enhancing transparency.

While past studies have focused largely on national governments and large cities, it is important to examine the progress of smaller governments as well. Arkansas counties are a relevant level of study because of its demographics. The users of the Internet for information vary by the demographics of the user. According to The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, Internet usage varies by education level. Less than 70 percent of those without some college use the Internet compared to 94 percent of those with at least a college education (Pew Internet, 2011). As a state, Arkansas residents may be part of the digital divide that limits Internet usage and county governments' adoption and content of websites. Less than 20 percent of Arkansas residents above the age of 25 have attained a bachelor's degree. Also, most of the state is rural with a comparatively lower median household income. Therefore, the progression of Arkansas county governments' website adoption and content provides insight into many governments that are more rural with less educated and lower income populations.

The purpose of this research is to assess the current state of transparency of county websites in the state of Arkansas. To determine this, the content of county websites is studied and compared to transparency indicators. In order to complete this task, a combination of literature, studies, and laws regarding governmental transparency have been used to create a scoring matrix where each of Arkansas' county websites is evaluated and scored based on the number and type of available transparency indicators. Before the content analysis is explained further, the definition and concept of transparency is first discussed, followed by an explanation of the transparency indicators used in the study.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Transparency

The concept of transparency has been a part of the United States' ideology since the days of the Constitution's founders. In promoting the Constitution, Hamilton argued in the Federalist Papers that citizen confidence in government is dependent upon the quality of administration. Knowledge of government operations is a necessity. Newbold (2011) makes this connection via transparency. With a transparent government, citizens can understand and hold government accountable for its administration and policies. Recently, President Obama described transparency in his Open Government Initiative's "Memorandum of Transparency and Open Government." In this Memorandum (Federal Register, 2009), transparency is simply defined as a method to "[promote] accountability and [provide] information for citizens about what their Government is doing" (para. 2). Transparency exposes corruption, makes information accessible to the citizens, and opens government operations and information to the public for observation and scrutiny (Fox, 2007). Koppell (2005) defines transparency as openness to inspection and scrutiny. A transparent government is accessible to the public and other interested parties. With that inspection and scrutiny, an accurate picture of government operations is developed (Piotrowski, 2007).

The role of transparency can be explained further with the principal-agent theory. The providers of goods and services, the agents or government actors, have the advantage of information. However, the principal (or the public in this scenario), needs the agents to act in the public's interest instead of the agent's self-interest (Waterman and Meier, 1998). Transparency is a necessary means of reducing that asymmetry of information required to ensure the advancement of public interest (Mechanisms of Secrecy, 2008). For Yang (2008), the benefits of information sharing requires that the information is accurate. Yang finds that honest reporting of information, such as performance, leads to increased participation from stakeholders like the public or citizen groups.

Similarly, transparency is necessary in the fiduciary model of popular representation. Embedded in legal theory, the fiduciary model is based on the trust that one party, the fiduciary, has to manage the resources of the other, the beneficiary. Transparency is necessary to ensure that public administrators carry out their fiduciary responsibility to the public. Openness of records, communications, and actions facilitates effective monitoring of decision-making and implementation of government policy. Without transparency, the public is vulnerable to corruption and incompetence (Criddle, 2010).

Specific to government websites, Pina and Royo (2010) argue that transparency websites makes the processes and political agenda of the decision makers clear. The citizenry should be more informed of policies, internal processes, and procedures before deciding to implement those policies. The transparent use of government websites is a strategy to provide information to citizens (Worthington, n.d.). However, the nature of that information will determine level of transparency. In a technical presentation for the Environmental Protection Agency, transparency models are discussed in relation to the types of information disseminated. Worthington argues that in order to have an increased level of transparency, three dimensions of information must be taken into consideration: content, format, and function. Content refers to the literal information provided. Format is the manner in which that information is presented. Function is the importance of that information in terms of usability. Moreover, content can be thought of in terms of authenticity, format in terms of accessibility, and function as usability (Worthington, n.d.).

Review of Transparency Policy and Legislation

Policies to enhance transparency have been in place for decades, even prior to the prevalence of the personal computer. As technology advanced, policies addressing those advancements and transparency also had to progress. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) of 1946 requires agencies to give public notice of proposed rulemaking to allow public participation in the process prior to implementation (Fountain, 2003). It was later determined that the APA allowed a problematic level of discretion for the agencies which was often used to protect information from the public (Relyea, 1986). The ineffectiveness of APA was addressed later in the key piece of transparency legislation, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which replaced the public information section of the APA (Relyea, 1986; Relyea, 2002).

Signed into law by President Johnson in 1966, the FOIA is the first major step in the direction of open government in an attempt to address growing pressure for increased access to previously undisclosed government documents (Kirtley, 2006; Dawes, 2008). The FOIA opened the door to many other laws pertaining to transparency, information sharing, and technology. One such law is the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 which set into motion the information resource management policies that are the groundwork for e-government management procedures today. Although its original intent was to simply reduce paper, the Paperwork Reduction Act set the foundation for e-rulemaking which is the online disclosure of rulemaking (Fountain, 2003; Dawes, 2008). The 1990s were filled with legislation as technology began to rapidly change and gain an increased governmental importance. In the early 1990s, desk top computers, local networks, and web browsers became common in the workplace, and with these technological instruments becoming standardized, the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 was passed with the intent to improve governmental project management. Later in 1996, the government began actively creating electronic FOIA records, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act required that governments at the federal, state, and local levels make information readily accessible (Dawes, 2008).

The E-Government Act of 2002 created a division within the Office of Management and Budget whose primary responsibility is to create online frameworks that allow American citizens access to governmental information and services. Essentially the division's purpose is to promote the use of e-government for the provision of governmental services (Koontz, 2004; Mullen, 2005). Availability is one of the objectives of the Act by ensuring "timely and reliable access to and use of information" (Hulitt and Vaughn, 2010, 139).

Indicators of Transparency

There are several indicators, or measures of transparency, found in the literature. One of the most basic indicators is the display of budgetary and tax information. The ability for the public to scrutinize where tax dollars are spent is considered crucial (Piotrowski & Van Ryzin, 2010; Pina, et al., 2007; Pina, et al., 2010). The concept of available budget information leading to a more transparent government is also a major theme in a study by Fox (2007), where the relationship between transparency and accountability is explored. Fox deconstructs transparency into two types: opaque and clear. In order for organizations to achieve this ideal clear form, budgetary information, particularly pertaining to taxes and the exact sources receiving public funds, should be made available (Fox, 2007).

Kopits and Craig (1998) argue that in order to maintain good governance, transparency in governmental operations is essential. Transparency is said to take on three dimensions where the first is the presentation, the second is the type of information, and the third is the level of detail of that information. In the discussion of the second dimension, taxing information is regarded as necessary; therefore, organizations should clearly define tax statuses, publish expenditure estimates, present possible reforms, and explain deficit financing (Kopits & Craig, 1998).

In addition to financial information, Piotrowski and Van Ryzin (2007) find in their study of local governments that respondents want public access to criminal records and open meetings. Armstrong's (2011) study, through a comparison between county websites and school board websites in Florida, finds that school board websites are more transparent than county government. Transparency in this study is measured through the presence of 12 public records: meeting agendas, meeting minutes, upcoming meeting schedules, elected official contact information, government contracts, summaries of government contracts, request for bids or proposals, local ordinances, budget and financial information, internal procedural manuals, local demographic information, and job opportunities (Armstrong, 2011, p.14). Armstrong also determines that if these indicators are not found within 15 minutes of viewing the website, transparency is lost because most web surfers would not dedicate more than 15 minutes to look for information (Armstrong, 2011).

West (2007) too highlights all of the various types of transparency indicators listed, but this study also places an emphasis on accessibility. According to West, transparency efforts are ineffective unless the information presented may be easily obtained. Therefore, within this content analysis of federal government websites, West also uses foreign language access, overall general information, contact information, search functions, and forms for download in multiple formats as ways to indicate transparency (West, 2007).

Sunshine laws are public access laws available in each state. The Sunshine Review is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that emphasizes the power of the Internet in achieving truly open government at the state and local levels (1). An ongoing project by this organization is the review of both state and county websites based on a list of transparency indicators. In addition to the budgets, taxes, open meetings, elected officials, contracts, public/criminal records, and job opportunities previously detailed, the Sunshine Review also argues that local government websites should present lobbying, audit, and building/permit information (Transparency Checklist, n.d.).

The Progress of Local Government Websites

Although e-government is a relatively new field, there have been some studies that offer valuable insight into local e-government development. Ho (2002) studies the website content of the 55 largest cities and surveys their web designers or officials. He concludes that local e-government seems to shift the government from a traditional bureaucracy to a new paradigm. In other words, the importance of standardization, departmentalization, and cost-efficiency seems to have shifted toward coordinated network building, external collaboration, and one-stop customer services.

Moon's (2002) study determines how municipalities are faring with e-government. Moon argues that the initial promises of e-government were great in that governments were to save money, reach a broader constituency, and simplify service delivery. However, after reviewing survey data from the PEW American Life Project, Moon's (2002) findings indicate that many municipalities are not actively engaging in e-government. It appears as though these promises are empty in that the costs of setting up websites and online services severely outweigh the benefits.

In addition to these two analyses, Edmiston's (2003) study centers on the theorized benefits that e-government has for the local and the state levels. Like the other studies, Edmiston's explains that e-government increases efficiency and improves access to services. However, this analysis goes a step farther as Edmiston argues that local e-government enhances democracy and builds stronger relationships between citizens and government. Findings show that this argument holds merit; however, many local governments are not participating in e-government due to costs, privacy concerns, and resistance by internal employees (Edmiston, 2003).

Based on ICMA survey data from the early to mid-2000s, Ahn and Bretschneider (2011) find that adoption of e-government is positively related to higher education, income, and population growth as measures of demand for e-government. Organizational capacity, such as financial and technical resources, as well as willingness of public administrators to adopt, is also a factor in adoption. These findings are similar to the earlier findings of Norris and Moon (2005) based on the same ICMA survey data. They also conclude that there were few reported impacts from e-government. In fact, the authors find that the reported impacts were often negative and that the anticipated positive impacts did not occur.

Reddick (2004), also using the ICMA survey data, develops a two stage model for local e-government development. The first stage is the cataloging of information, and the second stage is transactional stage. Similarly, most governments are in the first stage and those in the second stage are not utilizing the full potential. Reddick concludes that the characteristics of local governments in the transactional stage are 1) that they have larger populations, 2) have separate IT departments, and 3) tend to be in the Western region of the United States. Not surprisingly, those governments in the transactional stage of development are more likely to report the benefits of e-government, such as increased citizen contact with elected officials and reduced time demands on staff.

Coursey and Norris (2008) conclude that all of the models about local e-government development suggest further progress than actually exists because they were created in a vacuum without enough consideration of organizational and political factors. The authors conclude that local governments will continue to progress very slowly and that modeling specific stages is not realistic. E-government is not transformational so much as it reflects the current organizational and political status of the local government.

Pina, et al. (2010) later identified stages of development of local government websites from a one-way billboard, to a two-way partial service delivery, to a transaction stage which incorporates enhanced service delivery via financial transactions to more advanced stages. The authors find that most European local governments are not interactive. They conclude that the lack of interactivity inhibits the theorized benefits of e-government for transforming or enhancing bureaucracy and relationships between citizens and public officials (Pina, et al., 2010).

These studies investigate the development of e-government and whether it is changing the way government operates because it has the potential to reduce costs and build relationships between citizens and officials. However, the common thread is that these advantages may not be as apparent at the local level. It should also be noted that many of these analyses center on the benefits of e-government being increased service delivery, cost savings, and citizen interaction while the benefit of increased transparency is not addressed. Therefore, this analysis is unique in that it assesses county e-government as a tool for increasing transparency via analysis of the actual content of the websites.

METHOD

The purpose of this study is to assess the current state of transparency as depicted in the state of Arkansas' county websites. This is performed through the use of a content analysis based on transparency indicators. The transparency scorecard used in this content analysis is a combination of various transparency indicators taken from a variety of literature, laws, and organizations dedicated to a more transparent government. Specifically, Fox (2007) emphasizes the need for websites to display budgets, tax information, and elected official information while the analyses of Kopits and Craig (1998), Piotrowski and Van Ryzin (2007), and Armstrong (2011) stress Fox's indicators as well as open meetings, government contracts, criminal records, and public records. West (2007) also relies on these criteria, and places an emphasis on the overall use of contact information like phone numbers, e-mail addresses, physical addresses, as well as foreign language access and search functions. The non-profit organization, the Sunshine Review, adds to this list lobbying, audits, and permits. Laws such as the E-Government Act of 2002, the Federal Funding and Accountability and Transparency of 2006, and the state of Arkansas' Sunshine Laws are also taken into account, where together, these federal and state laws place an overall emphasis in the areas of budgets, taxes, and open meetings.

As a result of this combined information, Table 1 displays the 16 indicators and the sub-indicators. The sub-indicators allow for a more comprehensive review of the general categories of transparency resulting in 34 measures of transparency. The categories for the content analysis are as follows: Budget; Elected Officials; Administrative Officials; Tax Information; Open Meetings; Public Records; Crime Records; Contracts; Job openings; Audits; Lobbying; Building Permits/Zoning; Foreign Language Access; Downloadable forms; and Interactivity Functions, and Search Functions. For each of these categories, the individual subcategories are located in the second column of Table 1.

The first step of the content analysis is to determine which counties in the state of Arkansas possess websites. To do this, each county's name and "Arkansas" is entered into the Google[R] search engine. This action is used, because once again, if the county's website is too difficult to obtain, it is not considered transparent. It is found that less than half of the counties in the state, 35, have county government websites (2). To show where these counties are located within the state of Arkansas, Figure 1 displays the location of the counties with websites in relation to counties without websites.

Once the number of websites is determined, each county's website is observed and scored using the transparency scorecard. Following Armstrong (2011), each website is reviewed for 15 minutes. We accept Armstrong's premise that web surfers are not willing to search for much longer and that the content should be clearly identifiable. Therefore, if these indicators take longer than 15 minutes to locate, transparency is lacking. The authors considered the possible limitations of the 15 minute time limit and concluded that sufficient time was given to each website, especially due to the static nature and sparse content of the county websites.

Each time a subcategory of a transparency indicator is found on the county's website, it is noted on the transparency scorecard. One point is given to subcategories with complete information, .5 to those with incomplete information, and 0 to those with no information. This process is repeated for each sub-indicator for the 35 Arkansas counties possessing county government websites.

RESULTS

Table 2 displays the total number of points per transparency indicator for each county. The subcategories for each transparency indicator are not displayed. The first row labeled as "Points" is a point of reference to show the possible number of points available in each indicator category.

It is evident that out of the content analysis's possible 34 total points, the average points obtained are 9.17 or 27% of total possible points. Only 14 out of the 35 counties are above the mean score, only 4 of the counties received more than 20 points. The scores ranged from 0 to 28 with a standard deviation of 7.

Figure 2 displays where counties are located in relation to their scores. The four counties that received more than half of the possible 34 points are located in the northwest corner of the state and in the center of the state. The most transparent website is Benton County's with 28 out of 34 points (or 82%) which is located in the northwest corner of the state. Washington County earned 26 points (or 77%). Pulaski County, with 25 points, is the one high scoring county in the center of the state. Pulaski is also is where Little Rock, the largest city and state capital, is located. Sebastian County scored 22 points (or 65%). It is also important to note that Benton and Washington counties are among the top three counties for population growth since 2000.

Counties without a website have an average population of less than 20,000 which is less than one-third of the average population of counties with websites. Table 3 illustrates more demographic comparisons between counties with websites and those without websites. Counties without a website are older, less educated, have lower incomes, more poverty, and grew less in population. This is similar to previous studies that find that demographics affect Internet usage and the demand for e-government.

OLS regression analysis of demographics of counties with websites indicates that population growth and high school graduates have a positive relationship with the transparency score at the 95% and 90% levels, respectively (Table 4). Therefore, a more educated and faster growing population has a positive relationship with the transparency score. This may reflect increase Internet usage and e-government demand from the citizens as suggested by previous studies. For these counties, age, race, income, and poverty level are not related to level of transparency.

As displayed in Table 5, a score of zero is the most frequent score. With the exception of information on elected officials, a county is more likely to receive no points then all points of any transparency indicator. More counties received a partial score for having content on meetings, elected officials, and taxes than a score of zero. A score for all or partial information is more frequent than a score of zero information for the following transparency indicators: meetings, elected officials, administrative officials, and taxes. Only 2 out of 35 counties post the county's current budget. The weakest categories are "Lobbying" and "Interactivity Functions," such as comment boxes, for citizens to supply feedback and interact with webmasters or county officials. The strongest category is the "Elected Officials" indicator. However, as a whole, all of the categories do not bode well in terms of transparency.

Despite the general lack of information for all counties evaluated, some areas are slightly better than others. For example, most counties have a score of a "Partial" for the "Taxes", "Elected Officials", "Administrative Officials", and "Meetings" categories. As for "Taxes", the partial scores are due to the fact that counties normally display general information about local taxes. However, the other subcategories, such as forms and county fees are generally not available. As for "Elected" and "Administrative Officials", again, most counties have the names and phone numbers for these people. However, counties that display the name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and responsibilities of the positions are few. For "Meetings" most counties do have a public events calendar of upcoming meetings complete with times and locations. On the other hand, "Partial" points are the most common because very few counties display past meeting minutes or upcoming meeting agendas.

DISCUSSION OF FUTURE COUNTY DEVELOPMENT

The findings of the content analysis indicate that measures must be taken in order for Arkansas' county government websites to become more transparent. Not only are the government websites not transactional or interactive, they are weakly informational which is often reported as the first or basic stage of website development. Advancement within this stage has to become a priority in order for transparency to occur. However, the task of presenting more information online is a challenge given scarce resources.

Given the large amount of information that is lacking and possible staffing limitations, county officials may survey the public as to what types of information they would like to see online. This method is similar to Piotrowski and Van Ryzin (2007) study where a survey was administered to citizens about which types of information they feel they should know from their government. The names of sex offenders, city/town budget/financial statements, and transcripts of city/town council meetings were among the highest scoring. If this same technique were performed by county officials to their constituents, the county government would be able to better prioritize what types of information should be made immediately available on the websites.

Another approach for prioritizing is to look to the federal government's Open Government Initiative and follow the guidelines set by President Obama's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. In this 2009 memorandum, there is an emphasis placed on general information about agencies and duties, finances, and public feedback on the information provided (Federal Register, 2009). Therefore, if this guideline is used, these factors would gain priority on government websites.

Technological and financial resource constraints are likely as well. In order to increase the quantity and breadth of information available to the public, county governments can simply place documents online for download rather than integrating the data into the website's individual pages. This action may not require the use of a programmer, and therefore, may be performed at a lower in-house cost. While this is clearly not an ideal solution and certainly does not progress development past the informational stage, it does increase citizen access to information.

CONCLUSION

Demographically, Arkansas counties represent a large segment of the nation's local governments that are small in population, largely rural or not urban, and with incomes at or below the national average. Previous studies focus on much larger governments, or they include both large and small jurisdictions and conclude that population size matters. Smaller governments are uniquely challenged to adopt websites and progress in their development. Not only may they have more resource limitations (i.e. lack of technical expertise and staff), but they may not have the same demand for e-government as more populated jurisdictions. Therefore, the benefits that are afforded residents of larger jurisdictions through progressive e-government are less prevalent for residents of smaller jurisdictions.

Also, previous studies conclude that most local government websites are still in the informational stage of adoption and focus on the impact of those websites on various effectiveness, efficiency, and citizen interaction or transaction measures. Given that most local governments' websites are in the informational stage and are progressing very slowly if at all, the theorized impacts on those measures are largely not realized. However, determining that a website is informational does not indicate quality or breadth of that information or whether it informs the public of government policy and procedures. This study examines the content of that website's information to determine the level of transparency achieved by a county government website.

The findings clearly indicate that not only are Arkansas counties in the informational stage of website development as indicated by several previous studies, but the content of that information is quite sparse. This directly impacts transparency because the county governments are not using the websites to increase citizen knowledge of processes, procedures, and decision making. The websites are not opening government to citizen scrutiny, feedback, or participation in policy making.

Furthermore, most of the counties in Arkansas at the time of this study do not have an online presence. Those counties are even less populated and poorer than those counties that have adopted a website. Demographics in previous studies are used to indicate demand. However, the perceived lack of demand because a county has fewer and less educated residents should not be used as a justification if transparency is indeed a desired quality.

The sparse information and subsequent lack of transparency is relevant to other governments besides Arkansas counties. If the benefits of transparency is truly part of the democratic fabric of this country, then its benefits should be pursued for all citizens not just those in the country's largest cities. However, given the resource constraints of small, largely rural, less educated, and lower income governments, the prevailing academic push to see them progress quickly out of the informational stage may not be realistic or as important as seeing transparency improve. Currently, the incomplete development of information directly inhibits the role that websites can play in enhancing transparency.

Acknowledgement

The authors wish to thank Xianchen Guo for his assistance on this project.

REFERENCES

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CAROLYN T. HARDER

MEAGAN M. JORDAN

Old Dominion University

(1) Other organizations include Transparency International, The Sunlight Foundation, and the Sunlight in Government Initiative.

(2) We followed up with the counties identified as not having a website with additional searches.

Table 1
Transparency Indicator Scorecard

Transparency                 Sub-Indicators
Indicator

Budget                      * Current Budget

Elected Officials           * Name
                            * Contact Information (Phone, E-mail,
                              Address)
                            * Responsibilities

Administrative              * Name
Officials                   * Contact Information (Phone, E-mail,
                              Address)
                            * Responsibilities

Taxes                       * General Information about taxes
                            * County Fee(s)
                            * Form(s) available online

Meetings                    * Notices of Public Meetings (Including
                              Time and Place)
                            * Minutes of Past Meetings
                            * Meeting Agendas for Upcoming Meetings

Public Records              * General Information about Public Records
                              and where to obtain such
                            * Name of Person filling the records
                              request
                            * Contact information for that person

Crime Records               * Police Reports
                            * Sex Offenders (Name and Address)

Contracts/Bidding           * General Information about the Process of
                              Bidding and Government Contracts
                            * Rules Governing Contracts
                            * Current Bids
                            * Contracts for Purchases over $10,000

Job Openings                * General Information about Open
                              Position(s)
                            * Title(s) and Position Description(s)

Audits                      * General Information about Auditing
                              Procedures
                            * Report Results

Lobbying                    * General Information about Lobbying
                              Association(s)

Building Permits and        * General Information about Process
Zoning                      * Applications available online

Foreign Language Access     * Option to change the language of the
                              Website

Downloadable Forms          * Form(s)for tax purposes, bidding, etc.
                              in a variety of downloadable formats,
                              i.e. Adobe PDF documents, WORD, EXCEL

Interactivity Functions     * Comment Box(es)

Search Functions            * Search Bar(s)
                            * Site Map

Table 2
County Content Scores by Transparency Indicator

County        Budget   Elect    Admn    Taxes   Mtgs   Pub    Crime
                        Off      Off                    Rec    Rec

Points          1        3        3       3      3      3       2

Benton          1        3       2.5      3      3      3       2
Washing.        0        3        2       2      3      3       2
Pulaski         1        3        3       3      2      1       1
Sebastian       0        3        2       2      3      2       1
Faulkner        0        3        3       2      2      0       0
Garland         0        3        3       3      3      0       0
Craighe.        0        3        2       2      0      0       0
Saline          0        3        2       2      1      0       1
Pope            0        3        2       2      1     2.5      0
White           0        3        2       2     1.5     0       1
Hempst.         0        3        3      0.5     0      0       2
Independ.       0       2.5       0       2      1      0       2
Mississi.       0       2.5       2       2      1      0       0
Cross           0       2.5       2       1      1      0       3
Carroll         0        3        0      0.5     0      0       1
Baxter          0       2.5       1      0.5     0      0       2
Cleburne        0       1.5       0       2      0      0       2
Grant           0        3        1       2      1      0       1
Yell            0        3        2       0     0.5     0       2
Boone           0        3        0       0      1      0       2
Clark           0        2        2       2      0     0.5      0
Crawford        0        3        0       1     0.5     0       1
Poinsett        0        2       1.5      2      0      0       0
Van Bur.        0       1.5      1.5      0     2.5     0       0
Miller          0       1.5       0       0      2      0       0
Jackson         0       1.5       0       0      0      0       1
Lafayette       0        2        0       0      1      0       0
Columbia        0        1        0       2      0     0.5      0
Little Riv.     0        2        0       0      1      0       0
Sharp           0       1.5       0       0      1      0       0
Jefferson       0        0        0       0      0      0       0
Greene          0       1.5       0       0      0      0       0
Sevier          0       1.5       0       0      0      0       0
Desha           0        0        0       0      0      0       0
Crittend        0        0        0       0      0      0       0

County        Contr/   Job    Audits   Lobbying    Bldg      For
               Bid.    Open                         Perm     Lang

Points          4       2       2         1          2        1

Benton          4       2       0         0          2        0
Washing.        4       2       1         0          1        0
Pulaski         4       2       0         0          2        0
Sebastian       4       2       0         0          0        0
Faulkner        4       2       0         0          0        0
Garland         1       2       0         0          0        0
Craighe.        2       2       0         0          0        0
Saline          0       2       0         0          1        0
Pope            0       0       0         0          0        0
White           0       0       0         0          0        0
Hempst.         0       2       0         0          0        0
Independ.       0       2       0         0          0        0
Mississi.       0       1       0         0          0        0
Cross           0       0       0         0          0        0
Carroll         0       2       0         0          0        1
Baxter          0       2       0         0          0        0
Cleburne        0       1       0         0          0        1
Grant           0       0       0         0          0        0
Yell            0       0       0         0          0        0
Boone           0       0       0         0          0        0
Clark           0       0       0         0          0        0
Crawford        0       0       0         0          0        0
Poinsett        0       0       0         0          0        0
Van Bur.        0       0       0         0          0        0
Miller          0       0       0         0          0        0
Jackson         0       2       0         0          0        0
Lafayette       0       0       0         0          0        0
Columbia        0       0       0         0          0        0
Little Riv.     0       0       0         0          0        0
Sharp           0       0       0         0          0        0
Jefferson       0       0       0         0          0        0
Greene          0       0       0         0          0        0
Sevier          0       0       0         0          0        0
Desha           0       0       0         0          0        0
Crittend        0       0       0         0          0        0

County        Forms   Interact    Search     Total

Points          1        1          2          34

Benton         0.5       0          2          28
Washing.        1        0          2          26
Pulaski         1        0          2          25
Sebastian       1        0          2          22
Faulkner       0.5       0          0         16.5
Garland        0.5       0          1         16.5
Craighe.       0.5       0          2         13.5
Saline         0.5       0          0         12.5
Pope           0.5       0          0          11
White          0.5       0          1          11
Hempst.         0        0          0         10.5
Independ.      0.5       0          0          10
Mississi.      0.5       0          1          10
Cross           0        0          1         9.5
Carroll         0        0          1         8.5
Baxter          0        0          0          8
Cleburne       0.5       0          0          8
Grant           0        0          0          8
Yell            0        0          0         7.5
Boone           0        0          1          7
Clark           0        0          0         6.5
Crawford        0        0          0         5.5
Poinsett        0        0          0         5.5
Van Bur.        0        0          0         5.5
Miller         0.5       0          0          5
Jackson         0        0          0         4.5
Lafayette      0.5       0          1         4.5
Columbia        0        0          0         3.5
Little Riv.     0        0          0          3
Sharp           0        0          0         2.5
Jefferson       0        0          2          2
Greene          0        0          0         1.5
Sevier          0        0          0         1.5
Desha           0        0          1          1
Crittend        0        0          0          0

Table 3
County Demographics (mean)

           Population   % 65+    % White
           Change
           since 2000

Website    6.72%        15.64%   78.93%

No
Website    2.51%        17.60%   78.60%

Arkansas   9.10%        14.40%   77.00%

United
States     9.70%        13.0%    72.40%

           % H.S.      Median      %
           Graduates   Household   Below
                       Income      Poverty

Website    79.56%      $36,850     19.46%

No
Website    76.46%      $31,967     22.98%

Arkansas   81.30%      $37,888     18.50%

United
States     85.00%      $51,914     13.80%

Table 4
OLS Regression of Demographics on Transparency Score

                          Coefficient   t-statistic

Constant                 12.635         0.381
Population Change         0.376         2.568 **
% 65 and Older           -0.355        -0.941
% White                  -0.114        -1.113
% High School Graduate    0.455         1.843 *
Median Household Income  -0.001        -1.010
% Below Poverty          -0.463        -0.982

[R.sup.2] = 0.534; * p < .10; ** p < .05

Table 5
Indicator Frequencies

Transparency Indicators    Frequency
                           Present     Not Present

Budget                     2           33
Foreign Language Access    2           33
Interactivity Functions    0           35

                           All   Partial   None

Meetings                   4     17        14
Audits                     0     1         34
Elected Officials          16    16        3
Administrative Officials   4     15        16
Taxes                      3     19        13
Public Records             2     5         28
Crime Records              9     7         19
Contracts                  5     2         28
Jobs                       13    2         20
Lobbying                   0     0         35
Building/Zoning            2     2         31
Multiple Format Forms      2     12        20
Search Functions           6     9         20
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Article Details
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Author:Harder, Carolyn T.; Jordan, Meagan M.
Publication:Public Administration Quarterly
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Mar 22, 2013
Words:6698
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