Ranking Agency Transparency
In an age when transparency is all the rage, a new report should catch some attention: George Mason University's Mercatus Center today released the findings of its 10th annual evaluation of the strategic plans and annual performance reports that federal agencies must produce each year.
The report does not account for agency performance, only for the quality of information reported. It assesses the report's transparency, whether it documents any potential public benefits and whether agency leadership uses their annual performance information to plan for the future. Researchers use four specific criteria for those three areas of focus to determine the most effective reports.
Agencies can score a maximum of 60 points and a minimum of 12. The departments of Labor, Veterans Affairs and Transportation scored highest, with Labor receiving 56 points, VA 54 and DOT 53. Homeland Security and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency tied for fourth, earning 40 points.
Five agencies made "meaningful" improvements leading to higher year-to-year scores: Energy scored 36, climbing 5 points; Interior scored 37, climbing 5; Education scored a 37, also climbing 5; and USAID scored a 36, climbing 4. On average, agencies scored a 36, up from 34.6 in Fiscal Year 2007.
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