Governing Magazine Report on
Colorado Information, 2008
March 15, 2008
By Jerry Kopel
"Information is king" claims Governing magazine in measuring
performance by the 50 states for a report card based on the year 2007.
Boosting "information" makes sense for Governing, a subsidiary of
However, it's bad news for Colorado. We were tied for 47th worst state
with Arkansas, Mississippi, New Jersey, Vermont, and West Virginia on
information performance. Hawaii, New Hampshire, and South Dakota were at
the very bottom.
Denver Post columnist Fred Brown recently touched on the "Pew
Center On The States" as a source for his "report card" column on the 50
Actually, Pew and Governing joined "a group of academic experts
from four different colleges, compiling data from an electronic survey
of states, and interviewing 1,400 officials from the executive and
legislative branches, plus outside observers.
"Information elements" claimed Governing Magazine "in short, are key as
to how a state takes care of its infrastructure, plans for its financial
future and deals with dramatic changes affecting the state workforce..."
There were five criteria for information ranking, and Colorado ranked as
weak in the first three:
1. The state actively focuses on making
future policy and collecting information to support that policy
2. Elected officials, the state budget office and agency personnel
have appropriate data on the relationship between costs and
performance and use these data when making resource-allocation
3. Agency managers have the appropriate information required to make
program management decisions.
Colorado performance for 2007 was acceptable for
the following two criteria:
4. The governor and agency managers have
appropriate data that enable them to assess the actual performance
of policies and programs.
5. The public has appropriate access to information about the state,
the performance of state programs and state services and is able to
provide input to state policy makers.
"In an era when 'trust in government' is at low
ebb, states are working to open up communications with their
constituents" according to Governing magazine.
"Last year in Colorado (columnist note: Ritter's first year as governor)
the office of the governor, state treasurer and controller published a
transparent report on state government and expenses.
"It gave everyone and particularly individual taxpayers, a better
understanding of the budget."
Governing magazine quoted State Treasurer Cary Kennedy stating
"That's important in the same way it's important for investors in a
company to know how the company is performing. We need to understand how
the state is performing without the spin."
The other criteria used by Governing magazine, the Pew Center and
others were "people, money, and infrastructure" where Colorado scored "C
plus" on money and infrastructure, and "C" on people and information.
Colorado was given an overall "C plus" rank which makes us either 32d
out of 50, or tied with nine other states at 41st. In other words,
Colorado was only better than nine other states.
Besides "information", Colorado was weak in "training and development of
people" and "maintenance of the infrastructure".
Zeroing in for a full page on Colorado, Governing magazine
reports: "...competition for general fund dollars is fierce. And the
$325 million the state spent (columnist note: before Ritter became
governor) on failed technology projects in recent years hasn't helped.
Poor project management doomed some of the efforts, but they also were
damaged by a fragmented information technology administration system.
The current structure has decision makers spread across sixteen
Governing magazine placed our population for 2007 at 4,753,377
(actual numbers reported in February, 2008 indicate 4,861,515) which is
22d out of 50 states. In total state spending we rank 27th. In spending
per capita, we rank 43d. But in average per capita income, we rank
When we look at the Rocky Mountain region, ALL the states that touch a
Colorado border, did better than Colorado in this survey, except for
Oklahoma, which tied us at "C plus".
Utah was "A minus", Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona were "B
minus", and Nebraska was a "B".
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)