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Alex Hathaway:

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Best practices in governmental budgeting and financial management often center on improving transparency to induce accountability and ensure fiscal health. This investigation draws on data collected as part of the Volcker Alliance’s Truth and Integrity in Government Finance project and analyzes transparency practices to determine how easily structural deficits can be seen. A review of the literature discusses the merits and effects of transparency, the possible pitfalls, transparency measurement indices, and best practices guidelines. The methodology describes data collection techniques to analyze explicitly disclosed structural deficits, multi-year revenue and expenditure forecasts, and other long-term liability forecasts. Our results show that only 13 states explicitly disclose and analyze structural deficits; five states have multi-year forecasts for revenues, expenditures, and major programs; five states project debt service schedules into the future, and no states project future pension, OPEB, and deferred maintenance costs.


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