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Kristi Lafleur, deputy chief of staff for economic development and recovery for Gov. Pat Quinn, talks about how Illinois' recovery Web site has ramped up transparency efforts since July.

Illinois is the Cinderella story of stimulus transparency in new report

by Ryan Craggs
Jan 26, 2010

A big fat zero.

That’s the score Illinois got in July out of a possible 100 in a report that ranks each state’s stimulus-related web page.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, states are required to publish data detailing how and where federal stimulus dollars are spent. Back when the first rankings were published, Illinois didn’t have all the data available.

Since the first report, Illinois has jumped all the way up from dead last to No. 7 overall. Maryland led the way back in July and held onto its top spot in Tuesday’s report. Kentucky and Connecticut came in at second and third, with Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin tied for fourth place.

In the report released on Tuesday, Illinois received a score of 69.

An official said the state had learned its lesson.

“We were too focused on being perfect instead of moving portions of it forward more quickly,” said Kristi Lafleur, deputy chief of staff for economic development and recovery for Gov. Pat Quinn. “It takes a while to develop search capability and functionality.”

Brian Imus, director of Illinois Public Interest Research Group, said that after the poor showing in the first report, “Illinois was one of the fastest states in reaching out to make sure that the information was available.”

Illinois PIRG worked along with Good Jobs First, a non-profit research center based in Washington, D.C., in producing the report.

“We made an effort to highlight that Illinois wasn’t doing so well last July,” Imus said, “but it’s important to recognize when the state does a good job, and we’re happy to hold this press conference and get it out the public.”

Illinois has spent $5.6 billion of the nearly $11 billion it received from the stimulus package. As for transparency, Lafleur acknowledged there was room for improvement.

“I think that we’re looking to provide even more context to people on the economic outlook,” she said. “We’re very competitive here. We love that we’re No. 7, but we’re always going to strive to be No. 1.”