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Village, District 87 Earn Failing Scores in Online Transparency Audit; Both Plan Web Updates

The Illinois Policy Institute released results of its online audit of local governments entities.

The Village of Glen Ellyn and received failing grades in an online transparency audit the Illinois Policy Institute conducted. The audit results were released Wednesday. 

While the village and school district each received an F on the audit, officials for both entities said they are working to increase the amount of information available online. The was already in the process of a website redesign, which it expects to be completed in 2013 and the school district has plans to add information to be in compliance with the audit’s recommendations. 

In an effort to fight corruption and encourage public participation in government, the Illinois Policy Institute grades governments on how much public data is readily available on public websites. 

Dubbed “The Local Transparency Project,” the grades are based on the availability to the public of vital community information such as public meeting schedules, government employee salaries and tax rates. Since the institute launched the project in February 2010, more than 160 government entities have been graded.

District 87 scored a 39 in the final audit and the Village of Glen Ellen scored 54.3, according to the institute. By comparison, the government entities that scored above 80 percent were: DuPage County, Elmhurst School District 205, DuPage High School District 88 and the municipalities of Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Downers Grove and Lombard. The village of Lombard, in fact, maintained a score of 100 percent that was initially awarded in May 2012.

Government agencies that received passing grades were:  the municipalities of Oak Brook and Westmont, school districts 58, 181 and 45, and high School District 99.

District 205 achieved the highest score in the state for a school district, while Lombard first received a top score of 100 percent in May, tying for the top score in the state with Orland Park.

“The Village of Lombard and School District 205 are statewide leaders when it comes to proactive online transparency and accountability to their taxpayers.  We are also very pleased at how eleven other governments in the York Township-area have shown big improvements,” Brian Costin, director of government reform at the Institute, said.

District 87 has plans to include additional information on its website, according to Peg Mannion, community relations coordinator for the district.

In a statement Mannion said:

We are committed to providing the public with easy access to information about Glenbard District 87. Our award-winning website has information in each of the areas on the Illinois Policy Institute’s checklist; however, to date, we have not posted 5 years’ worth of information, which the Illinois Policy Institute includes in its transparency scoring process. 

In the coming weeks, we will add information to our website. This requires some logistical and clerical manpower. The following are expectations from the Illinois Policy Institute’s checklist:

  • The website should include the current-year budget and the budget for the prior 4 years. (5-years total)
  • The website should include a Checkbook Register and Credit Card expenditures to all individuals and third-party vendors. (Prior 5-years)
  • The website should contain compensation information for each individual employee including Wages, Salary, Overtime, Health, Dental, Life, Pension, etc. (Prior 5-years)
  • The website should include rules governing contracts posted online for the last 5-years; including bids and contracts for purchases over $25,000 and the vendor's campaign contributions posted with contract. Labor agreements with all employee groups. (Prior 5-years)
  • The website should include regular audit information for the past 5-years, specifically the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) for the agency’s total performance. Additionally, websites should include special project report results (such as TIF districts and special construction projects), audit schedules and performance audits for government programs. (Prior 5-years)

We appreciate the Illinois Policy Institute sharing its transparency audit information with us, and we are happy to comply with its recommendations. 

The Village of Glen Ellyn was in the process of a website redesign and has included more information on its website over the years, said Kristen Schrader, assistant to the village manager.

Schrader said in a statement Thursday: 

The village strives to ensure transparency and has increased these efforts in recent years with a variety of new communications and enhanced information efforts, such as a weekly eNewsletter. 

Prior to receiving the results of the Illinois Policy Institute’s audit of local governments, the Village had already begun considering a new website design that would reorganize the information available on the website, as well as increase the availability of other key information, thereby increasing transparency. 

As the Village continues with its website redesign project, it will be taking into consideration the information needs of its residents, businesses and visitors, as well as the suggestions highlighted in the Illinois Policy Institute’s Local Transparency Project. A new Village website is anticipated to be introduced in 2013.

 Costin said he was “very disappointed in the other nine agencies that had extremely low scores and who haven’t yet embraced online transparency. This needs to change if those taxing bodies truly want to be accountable to their taxpayers.”

The bottom nine agencies had an average score of 39.5 percent and all received an “F” grade. In comparison, the top 13 agencies had an average score of 79.8 percent.

A full list of scores are below:
Local Transparency Project – York Township-area as of June 20, 2012

Agency First Audit Final Audit Grade Change Village of Lombard 71.4 100 A+ +28.6 Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 48.4 90.6 A- +42.2 City of Elmhurst 56 86.3 B +30.3 DuPage County 74.8 86.3 B +11.5 DuPage High School District 88 39.7 81.7 B- +42 Village of Downers Grove 78.1 80 B- +1.9 Downers Grove Grade School District 58 56.7 77.4 C+ +20.7 Community High School District 99 39.5 76.6 C +37.1 Village of Oak Brook 50.1 68.1 D+ +18 Village of Westmont 56.5 67 D+ +10.5 Community Consolidated Grade School District 181 46.6 65 D +18.4 Grade School District 45 62.7 62.7 D- 0 Hinsdale Township High School District 86 59.1 59.2 F +.1 Village of Glen Ellyn 49.1 54.3 F +5.1 Butler Grade School District 53 19.7 42.8 F +23.1 Village of Villa Park 39.9 41.1 F +1.2 Glenbard High School District 87 35 39 F +4 Salt Creek Grade School District 48 31.6 35.7 F +4.1 Community Unit School District 201 31.8 35.5 F +3.8 City of Oakbrook Terrace 27 30 F +3 York Township 14.9 16.8 F +1.9 Average Score/Change 46 61.5 D- +22.4 Top 13 Agencies (Passing Grade) 57.1 79.8 C+ +22.7 Bottom 9 agencies (Failing Grade) 34.2 39.4 F +5.1

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