Three SC Entities Win Transparency Awards

March 8, 2012

Investigative Reports

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Transparency AwardThree South Carolina public bodies are among just 214 government entities nationwide being recognized by a national nonprofit dedicated to government transparency.

Aiken County, Anderson County and the School District of Pickens County were named by Sunshine Review as winners for 2011 of the Sunny Award, given to the most-transparent government websites in the nation.

Editors at Sunshine Review analyzed more than 6,000 government websites and graded each on a 10-point transparency checklist.

They looked at content available on government websites against what should be provided, and sought information on items such as budgets, meetings, financial audits, contracts and public records.

Sunny Award winners all received an “A” grade during the extensive grading process. This is the third year Sunshine Review has recognized government bodies for transparency, and Aiken County, Anderson County and Pickens County School District have all been honored previously.

Aiken County’s transparency push has been a group effort, according to Assistant County Administrator Brian Sanders.

“We’ve tried to be on the forefront of transparency,” he said. “Our County Council is very mindful of the need to be transparent and frankly they get a lot of the credit for our transparency push, along with our finance department and our county administrator, Clay Killian.”

Pickens School District has made a concerted effort to have its information available online, according to Communication Director Julie Thompson.

“We feel strongly that we need to have information out where the public can access it as easily as possible,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to make sure that we have the information in a format that’s easily accessible to the public and is also easy to find, but we know it’s worth the work.”

Alexandria, Va.-based Sunshine Review is dedicated to state and local government transparency. It works with individuals and organizations throughout the country to educate  citizens about government transparency and the need for an informed citizenry.

Since its inception in 2008, Sunshine Review has analyzed the websites of more than 6,000 state and local entities.

“The Sunny Awards recognizes governments that are doing an exemplary job at proactively disclosing information to taxpayers,” said Michael Barnhart, the president of Sunshine Review. “We at Sunshine Review are proud to acknowledge those who are doing it right and setting a transparency standard that all governments can, and should, meet.”

Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022 ext. 110, or kevin@thenerve.org.