District 86 'Failing' in Terms of Transparency, Study Says
The Illinois Policy Institute's released the latest edition of its "Local Transparency Project" this week, and rated 22 DuPage County area government agencies.
District 86 was given a failing grade in the Illinois Policy Institute's latest round of transparency audits, while District 181 and the Village of Hinsdale both received passing marks.
The institute graded 22 DuPage County government agencies in its latest audit, the results of which were released this week, and 13 of those agencies "passed." Passing grades were given to agencies that scored 60 percent and higher on an evaluation that includes a range of criteria.
"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," an Aug. 1 press release from the institute reads. "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."
The institute visits the public websites of agencies and evaluates 10 categories of information posted. Ten points are available for each of the categories, so the maximum score is 100.
District 86 received a 59.2 percent score. It was the highest score among the nine "failing" agencies. The district's website received scores of 1 out of 10 in the categories of district expenses reported, and salary and benefits information, and a 0 out of 10 on lobbying information.
The district did receive perfect 10 out of 10 scores on budget information and contact information for local officials.
Other categories included in the audit were access to meeting information, public records, financial audits, contracts, and tax and fee information.
District 181 received a "D" with a 65 percent score.
The Village of Hinsdale was one of seven agencies that received "high marks," according to the institute. It received a "B-" and an 81.2 percent.
The village scored at least a 9.2 out of 10 in all categories other than salary and benefits information, and contract information. It received a 2.5 and a 0 in those categories, respectively.
Other government entities that scored above 80 percent were DuPage County, school districts 205 and 88, and the municipalities of Elmhurst, Downers Grove and Lombard.
Government agencies that received passing grades were the municipalities of Oak Brook and Westmont, and school districts 58, 181, 45, and 99.
Along with District 86, government agencies that received failing grades were York Township, school districts 87, 48, 53, and 201, and the municipalities of Glen Ellyn, Oakbrook Terrace, and Villa Park.
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 in the Aug. 1 release.
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.”
According to its website, the Illinois Policy Institute is an independent research and education organization that strives to make Illinois "first in economic outlook and job creation."
The transparency project was first launched by the Illinois Policy Institute in February 2010 and has since graded 160 government entities.
Here's the full table of transparency scores, courtesy of the Aug. 1 press release:
|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 High School District 88||39.7||81.7||B-||+42|
|Village of Hinsdale||51.2||81.2||B-||+30|
|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|
|Top 13 Agencies (Passing Grade)||57.1||79.8||C+||+22.7|
|Bottom 9 agencies (Failing Grade)||34.2||39.4||F||+5.1|