(The Center Square) – Massachusetts experienced a slight decrease in its financial transparency score in 2021, according to a new report from a national watchdog.
Truth in Accounting released its Financial Transparency 2021 Report, which scores states on their transparency for audits and timeliness of reporting when it comes to financial health. Scores also are given for ease of use of websites containing financial information.
The Bay State saw a decrease of two points by earning a score of 80 on this year’s report, which awarded the state the maximum of 50 points for receiving a clean auditor report from an independent auditor.
Truth in Accounting reported scores declined in this year’s report compared with previous years mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted weak spots in states’ unemployment insurance funds, which caused several states to receive lower scores. Timeliness of filing reports and the use of outdated pension information also accounted for lower scores.
The report utilizes the Government Financial Officers Association gold standard of reporting financial information within 180 days of the close of the fiscal year.
The 2021 report found that most states didn’t provide pension liability amounts, with only Maryland reporting up-to-date numbers. The numbers used in the report, primarily, were one year old for 44 states.
Massachusetts received three points for deferred items on its report and nine points for off-balance sheet liabilities for reporting all its information. However, the state scored only two points for timeliness, four points for accessibility to financial information and five points for navigation on its website. The state did, however, receive five points for using auditors who were not state employees and two points for pension data timing.
Utah was the top state with a transparency score of 88, while Colorado was the least transparent state with a score of 46. Connecticut and Vermont saw the biggest increases with 25-point jumps for their pension plans reports receiving clean audit opinions.