Last week my organization, US Common Sense, launched our public finance sustainability website, GovRank*.

Screengrab of the GovRank landing page

Here’s hoping the site will foster good research, debate about our methods, and more public awareness of the state of local finance. Here’s our description of GovRank:

We want all citizens, journalists, and public officials to have greater access to information about their governments’ finances. Recognizing the challenges of data availability, comparability, and transparency, US Common Sense compiled data for over 13,000 local governments and all 50 states dating back to 2008-09… We collected more than 97,000 financial reports and nearly 70,000 budgets; extracted “top line” financial figures; and ranked local and state governments’ relative performance.


Several friends have told me the site’s data gives ammunition to people who want to cut public employee pensions and benefits. But, I point out, it can also be used to advocate for responsible funding of such benefits. As a humanist, I have to believe making information available improves the world.

*US Common Sense has closed and GovRank is no longer available online (Oct.2020).

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