Reporting and disclosure on incentive use sounds easy, but poses a huge challenge to many local governments. A new report from Good Jobs First reviews the online disclosure practices of 50 of the nation’s biggest counties and cities. Here are some of the takeaways:

  • Study authors reviewed one or two programs each in 50 localities, selecting those that are the most costly, most frequently used, and/or most controversial.
  • Among 85 of programs that could be rated, only 35 of those disclose some company-specific information and could be described as “transparent.”
  • To be transparent, “programs must identify corporate recipients by name and the award information must be available online in an accessible format. Subsidy value is another core data point that the public should have . . . “ (p. 4)
  • Other disclosure measures of merit are:
      • Facility address
      • Subsidy duration
      • Approved dollar value of subsidy
      • Jobs projected and/or required
      • Actual subsidy provided/claimed
      • Actual jobs created
      • Wages/payroll
      • Multiple years of data
      • Accessibility and user-friendliness
      • Downloadable data
      • Additional project information
  • Transparency is improving, with a slightly larger percentage of programs reviewed meeting Good Jobs First’s basic standards of transparency compared to the first analysis in 2013.

You can read and download the full report, “Show Us the Local Subsidies,” here. Check out the Appendices for details on how this set of counties and cities provides data on incentives. Don’t miss the helpful links to their disclosure websites.

You may also want to see our Infographic on Managing Incentives for Transparency & Accountability.