Thursday, May 17, 2012

Orland Fire District receives high marks in transparency audit by IPI

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Orland Fire District receives high marks
in transparency audit by IPI

Six neighboring government agencies fail transparency test

CHICAGO (May 18, 2012) – The village of Tinley Park, Orland Township, Orland School District 135 and the Orland Fire Protection District all received high marks in an online transparency audit conducted by the Illinois Policy Institute. These Orland Township-area governments join the Village of Orland Park, who maintained a score of 100 percent from August 2011.

The Illinois Policy Institute grades on how much public data is readily available on public websites. Dubbed “The Local Transparency Project,” grades are based on the availability to the public of vital community information, such as public meeting schedules, government employee salaries and tax rates. Since the project was launched by the Institute in February 2010, more than 140 government entities have been graded.

In the Orland Township-area, websites for 14 government entities were graded. Township of Orland, Homer Glen, Orland Park, Tinley Park, Orland School District 135, School District 146, School District 230 and Orland Fire Protection District all received passing grades.

Orland Hills, Kirby School District 140, Community College District 524, Mokena Park District, Tinley Park Park District and Mokena Fire Protection District all received failing grades.

The Village of Orland Park first received the top score of 100 percent in August 2011. The village maintained this score in the most recent audit.

“After Orland Park received a score of 100 percent last year, we are very pleased at how seven other governments in the Orland Township area have shown big improvements,” said Brian Costin, director of government reform at the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute. "However, we are very disappointed the other six agencies who had extremely low scores and who haven’t yet embraced online transparency. This needs to change if those taxing bodies truly want to be accountable to their taxpayers.”

The bottom six agencies had an average score of 22.5 percent and all received an “F” grade. In comparison, the top 8 agencies had an average score of 88.5 percent.

For democracy to work, citizens need access to the information about what government does. Proactive transparency is the best way to educate society about the actions of government and keep voters informed. That’s why the Local Transparency Project grades public agencies on the availability of the following information: elected and administrative officials; public meetings; how to file a Freedom of Information Act request; budgets; audits; expenditures; salaries and benefits; contracts, lobbying; and taxing levels.

Jim Hickey, president of the Orland Fire Protection District said the Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist offered local leaders a useful checklist to follow for online transparency.

“I am gratified for the support we have received from the Illinois Policy Institute. We now have many documents that previously were not easily available to the public now accessible for anyone to inspect on our web site," Hickey said. "I want to reach 100 percent.  and moving forward, we will as we continue to convert older records from the past. We hope our efforts serve to motivate other governments in the Orland Park region to follow our lead and make their own governments transparent, too.”

A full list of scores are attached and below: 

Click to view larger image

The Illinois Policy Institute is a nonpartisan research and education organization dedicated to making Illinois a beacon for liberty and prosperity for all citizens. As a leading voice for economic liberty and government accountability, the Institute engages policy makers, opinion leaders and citizens on the state and local level by promoting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives for a better Illinois. To learn more about the Institute or review policy briefs, please visit: