Harris County Wins State, National Awards For Financial Openness
In the past week, Harris County has won state and national awards that commend it for making county financial information freely available on the Internet.
First, the county learned the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts awarded Harris County the Gold Leadership Circle Award for efforts to make its finances open and accessible to county residents. Next, the county became one of just 13 local governments nationwide to earn a perfect score on government transparency by Sunshine Review, a national non-profit that recently evaluated the Web sites of every state and more than 5,000 local governments.
“We always strive to be as open as possible with county residents,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in a statement. “After all, it’s their money, and they have the right to know how it’s being handled.”
In a letter to Emmett, officials with the Comptroller’s Office congratulated the county for “implementing financial transparency” and achieving the highest score of 15 points in the rating criteria. Local governments are judged on their success in opening their books to the public, providing clear, consistent pictures of spending, and sharing information in a user-friendly format that allows taxpayers to access more information.
For the national award, Sunshine Review granted Harris County a “Sunny Award” after an evaluation of the county’s Website, www.hctx.net, showed the county provided the necessary public information in all 10 categories evaluated. No other local government in Texas earned a perfect score.
“Sunny Award winners deserve recognition for making information available to citizens and for setting a transparency standard that all governments can, and should, meet,” said Mike Barnhart, the president of Sunshine Review.