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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

South Dakota Counties Still Lagging in Web Development

Hat tip to roving reporter and Madison native Steve White!

I've grumbled previously about the relative lack of information on the Lake County website. (Let's get some meeting minutes up... and commissioners! Start blogging! You too, Ken!)

But hey, at least Lake County has a website. The Sunshine Review*, a collaborative volunteer program analyzing government transparency, finds 43 out of 66 South Dakota counties don't even have a website. Most of the 23 South Dakota counties that do have websites are sorely lacking in information on the budget, taxes, audits, and contracts, all the sorts of financial data citizens need to know to keep their elected officials accountable.

Put all of South Dakota's counties together, and as a state we rank 27th in the nation, scoring only a 25.35% on the Sunshine Review's transparency scale. Looks we have some work to do all around!

*I note with mild suspicion that the Sunshine Review is sponsored by the Sam Adams Alliance. The Sunshine Review is an interesting and useful project... but the Sam Adams folks also brought us the embarrassing (but thankfully unsuccessful) SD Shovel.


  1. The thing I couldn't believe is how many counties don't even have a website. How can that be?

    I think you could argue in a sparsely populated county the internet can become more important as a means of connecting people to government services and policy makers.

    I can't vouch for the people behind this project, but they've done a nice job collecting data on all the counties.

  2. That's not entirely accurate. Some of the counties that are listed as "not having websites" do have websites through the SD County Association and http://www.sdcountywebsites.com/ (a system I developed for Logic Lizard 1.5 years ago), but they havne't made it on that list yet.

  3. Well heck, Matt! Let's get on that Sunshine Review wiki and fix the list!

  4. Matthew, thanks for sharing that. I'm glad to see those counties are represented online.

    Not specific to any county in particular, but many do a poor job updating meeting minutes, at least counties I've had to deal with. It just seems to be such a low priority.

    And when they do, some upload a Word file. I'd much rather have it as HTML or PDF. I know I can open a .doc with software other than Word, but still. Give me something I can open right in my browser.


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