Sunshine Review

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Sunshine Review
SR corner logo.png
Motto Bringing state & local government to light
Founded July 2008
Dissolved 9 July 2013
Area served United States

Sunshine Review was an American nonprofit pro-transparency organization.[1]

Sunshine Review was a website prior to becoming its own nonprofit organization. The wiki-based website was launched in July 2008 as a project of the Sam Adams Alliance.[2] In 2010, Sunshine Review separated from the Sam Adams Alliance and launched its own organization dedicated to educating the public about proactive disclosure of government data and other open government initiatives.

Sunshine Review addressed several areas of transparency, including state spending, state sunshine laws, and rating local government websites on transparency.[3] Sunshine Review worked with the National Taxpayers Union[4] to develop information on state spending, and with the Lucy Burns Institute which runs the WikiFOIA project.[5] Sunshine Review developed a ten-point transparency checklist to evaluate if government websites proactively and voluntarily disclose information to the public and media.[6]

On July 9th, 2013, Sunshine Review was acquired by the Lucy Burns Institute and merged into Ballotpedia.[7]

Website evaluations[edit]

In March 2010, the organization reported that it had evaluated over 5,000 government websites, including 3,140 counties, 805 cities, and 1,560 school districts.[8] In March 2010, Sunshine Review launched the Sunny Awards just prior to Sunshine Week to recognize the 39 local government websites that had score an A on their checklist.[9] By the time of the 2011 Sunny Awards, those who qualified had more than doubled, with the organization handing out 112 awards to state and local government websites.[10][11] In 2012 the number of awards had increased yet again, with the organization handing out 214 awards to state government and other localities.[12]

Upgrading to meet the checklist[edit]

St. Charles Parish, Louisiana re-did their website partly "in response to the critique [on Sunshine Review], which examined the sites of every parish in the state, she put the parish's budget online and is preparing to add information about how to obtain public records from the parish."[13] Dupage County, Illinois promised to add county contracts to its website.[14] Champaign County, Illinois was recognized by a local newspaper for its informative website based on Sunshine Review's evaluation of the county's website.[15][16][17]

Other local government has also upgraded their websites to receive perfect grades on Sunshine Review's checklist including Tulsa County,[18] Owasso City,[19] Carbondale[20] and Anderson County.[21]

Sunshine Review was also credited with inspiring Cook County, Illinois to post its checkbook register online.[22]

Salary records project[edit]

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):[23]

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties, and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state sunshine laws requests sent out to the governments. The report found that California had the most employees earning over 150k, with Illinois a close second.[24]


In an effort to create a conversation between public records advocates, Sunshine Review launched FOIAchat on Twitter.[25] The weekly conversation has included Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists, including Ryan Gabrielson, to answer questions about public records requests.[26]


  1. ^ "'Sunshine' group rates government websites". The Columbian. August 8, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sunshine Review, Press Room
  3. ^ Sunshine Review
  4. ^ Show Me The Spending
  5. ^ WikiFOIA
  6. ^ Sunshine Review, Affirmative disclosure
  7. ^
  8. ^ Sedona Times, Arizona “Sunny Award” Winners, March 10, 2010
  9. ^ Reason Hit & Run, Top Government Websites for Transparency, March 10, 2010
  10. ^ Sunshine Review, Sunny Awards recognize state, local governments with perfect transparency scores, March 10, 2011
  11. ^ WIBC 93.1 FM, State Upgrading Transparency Website, March 14, 2011
  12. ^ Sunshine Review, 2012 Sunny Awards, March 8, 2012
  13. ^ The Times Picayune, St. Charles redesigns Web site, January 22, 2008
  14. ^ Argus Press Spectator, County Web site earns top marks for transparency, Dec. 8, 2008
  15. ^ News-Gazette, Champaign County Web site recognized for openness, Dec. 4, 2008
  16. ^ PJ Star, Illinoisans more than one click away, Nov. 30, 2008
  17. ^ Beacon News, A not so twisted Web for counties, Dec. 1, 2008
  18. ^ Tulsa World, County kudos, Oct. 24, 2009
  19. ^ Tulsa World, Owasso gets high mark for openness, January 9, 2010
  20. ^ ICMA News Briefing, Sam Adams Alliance Praises Carbondale, Illinois, Website As Model Of Openness, March 16, 2009
  21. ^ Independent Mail, Openness is Anderson’s message at convention, July 29, 2009
  22. ^ Civic Federation, Cook County’s New Online Check Register Gives Public Access to County Spending Records, Feb. 24, 2010
  23. ^ Sunshine Review, Which governments pay their public employees the most?, Jan. 18, 2012
  24. ^ Cal Watchdog, CA High Public Employee Pay, Jan. 18, 2012
  25. ^ What the hashtag?", FOIAchat
  26. ^ International Journalists Network, From Tip to Story: Chat with Pulitzer winner Ryan Gabrielson (Worldwide), March 10, 2011

External links[edit]