Hawaii Ranks Near Bottom for Enforcement of Transparency Laws

Flickr: Kenny Miller

Hawaii may have good laws when it comes to government transparency and accountability.

But there's a huge gap between what's written on paper and the daily reality here. That's according to a new 50-state, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption efforts.

Hawaii ranked 44th. Only Texas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, New York and Maryland were worse. The best was Nebraska.

The "enforcement gap" represents the difference in a state's "in law" score and "in practice" score, according to the State Integrity Investigation. This is the difference between what the law says and what is done on the ground. A higher gap score means a state is not doing as well implementing existing transparency and accountability measures. Hawaii's was among the worst scores.

The state's score was only revealed in the final days of a project that Civil Beat joined last August. Reporter Diane Lee, Assistant Editor Sara Lin and I worked for months as the Hawaii team for the national effort. The State Integrity Investigation hired journalists in every state to measure the strength of laws and practices that encourage openness and deter corruption.

The effort was funded in part by the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm founded by Pierre Omidyar, publisher and CEO of Civil Beat, and his wife, Pam. The methodology was designed by Global Integrity, a nonprofit with experience in this work in more than 11 countries; the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization, oversaw the reporting; and Public Radio International is managing the website.

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