Vermont's Online Info Found Lacking? | Tech | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Vermont's Online Info Found Lacking? 

Local Matters: State scores a 'D' for websites?

Published November 28, 2007 at 1:35 p.m.

VERMONT - Earlier this month, a labor-oriented advocacy group judged the "quantity and quality" of information provided by state government websites. Vermont was found wanting.

The report, issued on November 15 by Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First, ranked states for conduct in three categories: "economic development subsidies," "lobbyists and lobbying activity" and "state procurement contracts." Vermont's D-plus rating is above the national average of D-minus and ranks 18th nationwide.

Tom Murray, commissioner of the Department of Information & Innovation, acknowledges the state's shortcomings. "Traditionally, we've been a paper-focused state, and we're rapidly shifting away from that," he says. According to Murray, any concerns over lack of web transparency stem from insufficient resources, rather than a lack of "desire" for reform. Murray hopes to put all government services online in the next three or four years, or "darn close to it."

In contrast to Murray's assurances, two prominent Vermont Progressives suggest the Good Jobs First report is a sign of deeper troubles. On November 15, Vermont Progressive Party Executive Director Morgan Daybell charged on his party's blog that the report was a "reality check" to Governor Jim Douglas' "much-hyped" e-State Initiative. Speaking with Seven Days Monday, Daybell said he's specifically disappointed with the website of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, which administers the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC).

Progressive economic analyst Doug Hoffer lobs a more focused criticism. "VEPC is prohibited by law from providing company-specific information, other than the fact that a company was provided credits and utilized them, period," he notes. "That tells us nothing about how many jobs they promised to create, and how many they did create in the end, and at what wage." Hoffer claims companies such as Wal-Mart have traditionally taken advantage of the state's accountability protocols to reap extra profits.

"I think Mr. Hoffer is confused," counters David Mace, communications director at the Agency of Commerce & Community Development. Mace suggests the state's carefully managed financial reporting procedures are a benefit - at least, to the bottom line. "Certainly, companies have a right to protect proprietary information about their wages and their employment levels," he asserts. "It's difficult to imagine that companies would be eager to apply for an incentive program if it were going to require them to disclose information that would put them at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Mike Ives

Mike Ives

Mike Ives was a staff writer for Seven Days from January 2007 until October 2009.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation