About the State Integrity Investigation

Keeping government honest

Voters tell pollsters that integrity is the most important quality they look for in public officials. It’s even more important than candidates’ opinions on the issues.

But leaders in many states fall short of citizens’ expectations. In Massachusetts, the last three house speakers were convicted on corruption. In Illinois, four ofthe last nine governors have gone to prison. Scandals have shaken more than half the nation’s statehouses in the past decade.

The State Integrity Investigation is a $1.5 million public collaboration designed to expose practices that undermine trust in state capitols -- and spotlight the states that are doing things right.

How does the State Integrity Investigation work?

The State Integrity Investigation is an unprecedented, data-driven analysis of each state’s laws and practices that deter corruption and promote accountability and openness. Experienced journalists graded each state government on its corruption risk using 330 specific measures. The Investigation ranked every state from one to 50. Each state received a report card with letter grades in 14 categories, including campaign finance, ethics laws, lobbying regulations, and management of state pension funds.

What is the goal of the Investigation?

  • To examine states’ commitment to government integrity and shine light on what’s working and what’s not.
  • To convince state officials to improve their laws and practices. The State Integrity Index highlights “best practices” in state government and can serve as a basis for policy reforms that address the unique challenges facing each state.
  • To inspire the public to become interested and invested in ensuring honest, effective state government.  The Investigation offers many ways for people to become involved – following news about state integrity, emailing report cards to officials, sharing experiences with state government, proposing solutions, and connecting with local “good government” groups.

How were the grades and scores determined?

The Investigation is not simply a tally of scandals that have occurred in state governments. Instead, it measures the strength of laws and practices that encourage openness and deter corruption.  The Investigation consulted 100 government integrity experts to determine what to measure, then created its State Integrity Index with 330 “corruption risk indicators.”

Journalists in each state conducted interviews and research to score the indicators, based on clear scoring criteria. Editors at Global Integrity and the Center for Public Integrity reviewed the journalists’ work for accuracy and internal consistency. Experts in every state then independently reviewed the data. 

You can view the scoring criteria, reporter notes, references, and reviewer notes by clicking on any category and then on specific corruption risk indicators.You can also read more about our methodology.

Who paid for the Investigation?

This project was produced with important support from Omidyar Network and the Rita Allen Foundation, with additional support form Rockefeller Family Fund. The Wyncote Foundation has provided support for follow-up reporting on the project and its findings.

Who are the project partners?

The State Integrity Investigation is a partnership of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.

How can I take action to promote government integrity in my state?

We invite you to:

How do I get more information?



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