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Assessing state government financial transparency websites

Joel B. Thornton (University Libraries, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Elaine Thornton (University Libraries, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 7 June 2013

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the content of, and the extent to which, the 50 state governments make online spending data available to citizens. Additionally, it seeks to analyze the typical access points available for searching financial transparency websites and to evaluate each for the presence of learning aids to assist average citizens in deciphering the data provided.

Design/methodology/approach

A content analysis of 50 state government financial transparency websites was conducted to determine access points available for searching and the presence of learning aids and explanatory materials to facilitate citizen understanding of government spending.

Findings

The study results revealed that, despite state government's efforts to provide increased access to financial information, little has been done to assist in improving citizens' skill in using the information and making it more understandable.

Practical implications

Librarians can play an integral role in assisting average citizens in navigating and understanding state government financial transparency websites.

Originality/value

This study demonstrates the importance of including learning aids on state government financial transparency websites and highlights the role that information professionals can play in assisting citizens with website navigation and data interpretation.

Keywords

Citation

Thornton, J.B. and Thornton, E. (2013), "Assessing state government financial transparency websites", Reference Services Review, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 366-387. https://doi.org/10.1108/00907321311326273

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited