Guest Bloggers: Stephen Kies and Randy Stockman
Explanation of the Project
You are probably wondering “What is ABTA”? ABTA stands for Activity-Based Total Accountability. Government Accountability/Transparency is the extent to which a state discloses their financial information to the public. It can range from being very basic and showing only the dollar amount, to being very detailed and showing the dollar amount, purchase number, vendor, purchaser, date, reason for purchase, and outcome of the purchase.
One of the projects we are working on here as student researchers in the College of Business is evaluating state government accountability websites. This project is federally funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and falls under the ABTA Institute managed by Dr. Carstens.
We use a checklist based on important criteria such as: Supportability, Navigation, Readability, Data Content, Search Capability, Download Capability, Report Functionality, Graphics Capability, Contextual Information, and Supportability via Social Media. We look at each site in depth and record whether it meets these specific requirements by taking screenshots. We then create a Powerpoint presentation of the website displaying each website’s pros/cons. We are in the process of developing a ranking system and will then assign ranks to each site based on it’s performance on our checklist.
Why We are Working on This and Why it is Important
It is important for the government to be transparent in it’s spending so that the people can see where exactly their tax dollars are going. When a government merely describes it’s spending as “Other”, it leaves a lot of room for suspicion. Detail is very important when it comes to spending.
We are also looking at the usability aspect of each site. A website can have all the information possible but lack key usability features and be worthless. If the people cannot access the information easily, then it is no good.
Valuable Experience Gained
We are very glad to have the opportunity to work on this project because the experience is invaluable. The work we are doing on this grant ties in directly with what we are learning in our classes. Florida Tech is a national research university and highly promotes student and faculty projects such as this one.
We are also working on other projects aside from this one. Working on multiple projects has definitely given us some strong project management experience through the use of teamwork and deadlines.
Meet the Authors
Randy Stockman is a junior studying in the area of Information Systems focusing on networks and has been working on this project for about five months.