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Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Hampshire gets D-minus in report gauging transparency in spending

New Hampshire is nearly failing when it comes to transparency in spending.

That was the conclusion of the New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group, which gave the state a D-minus in “Following the Money 2012,” a report that ranks states on how transparent states are in reporting spending to the public.

New Hampshire’s grade is an improvement from last year when it was one of six states to get a failing grade.

Since the last report, New Hampshire has added a checkbook feature on TransparencyNH, which lets users see payment information to vendors from 53 state departments and agencies dating back to July 2008. That can be found at www.nh.gov/transparentnh.

However, it’s difficult to find specific payments because the State Expenditure Register isn’t searchable, according to NHPIRG.

Forty-six states now have similar tools on their websites, up from 32 last year. Another 29 have information on government spending through tax deductions, exemptions and credits, up from just eight last year, according to the group.

The states that led the pack in terms of financial transparency were Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Arizona, according to NHPIRG.

“Citizens expect information to be at their fingertips the way they can view their cellphone minutes or the location of a package,” NHPIRG spokeswoman Addie Shankle said. “Putting spending information online helps hold government accountable and allows taxpayers to see where the money goes.”

The full report is available at www.nhpirg.org/reports/nhp/following-money-2012.

– JOSEPH G. COTE