I’ve praised Iowa Economic Development on Twitter for its openness in reporting incentive awards granted by its Board.  Iowa is also one of only four states cited by the Pew Center on the States in its Evidence Counts report for integrating incentive evaluations into its policy process, and the state receives specific praise for its history of high-quality incentive analyses.   

Here we take a look at how Iowa reports on incentive awards and compliance.  We believe Iowa is a leader on incentives transparency. 

Iowa has an interesting way of presenting incentive information to the public.  The FY2012 Annual Report is presented graphically and with links to detailed supporting documents.  The graphics provide an overview of the total volume of assistance by category plus a summary of capital investment and jobs that are expected to result from the projects. 

It is noteworthy that the word “expected” is included.  Unfortunately, too many organizations present job and investment projections as accomplished fact.

The site goes on to summarize awards made since July 2003 – again noteworthy since many organizations do not make past obligations easy to access or track.   

Iowa then makes individual award information available by the following categories:

  • Projects awarded but not reporting – typically new projects not yet required to submit a report
  • Projects not proceeding – awards that were declined, rescinded or terminated
  • Projects under contract – awards that are in performance or maintenance mode, with a completion and maintenance date as part of the contract
  • Projects in default – usually a temporary status
  • Closed projects – awards that are deemed successful or that are subject to a full or partial recapture if contract terms were not met

Finally, my favorite part: “IEDA is proud of the part we play in working to grow Iowa’s economy.  We welcome the opportunity to discuss this report in its entirety, or by individual projects.”

I’m impressed, but I’d be interested in hearing from Iowans about your views on how transparent and useful this system of reporting is to you.