MONTPELIER -- Vermont is a national leader when it comes to government spending transparency, according to a new report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). One of only eight states to receive an "A" rating, Vermont has made significant progress to increase spending transparency since 2010 when the state received an "F" on this same report.

The fifth annual report, "Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data," assigns each state a grade of "A" to "F" based on an inventory of the content and ease-of-use of states' transparency websites. Grading standards rise each year, so states need to improve transparency each year to be a leader.

Since 2010 when Vermont received a failing grade, the state has taken steps to increase both its score and commitment to financial transparency, including:

-- Launching a spending transparency website, www.spotlight.vermont.gov, which is maintained by the Department of Finance & Management under the direction of Chief Performance Officer Sue Zeller. The website provides public access to existing financial information in one easy-to-find, easy-to-access and user-friendly website. The Spotlight site was specifically singled out by the USPIRG report as a reason for Vermont's increased score.

-- Governor's Dashboard - A one stop webpage showing performance measures, statewide statistics and comparisons to national benchmarks on a range of subjects such as jobs, the economy and the environment.

-- The Vermont legislature is on its way to passing S.293, a bill that will set in motion a statewide effort to closely track state government's progress on improving quality of life for Vermonters. Coordinated by the Chief Performance Officer, all agencies and departments in state government will collect data, track their progress and report annually to the General Assembly on their performance results to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively.

"This is a great honor for the team at the Agency of Administration that is working hard every single day to ensure Vermonters can easily access information about government spending," said Shumlin. "We've made great strides over the past few years to increase transparency and I'm thankful for their efforts."

"Governor Shumlin and his team have made a real commitment to improving public access to information about government spending, and that commitment is reflected in the outstanding grade that Vermont received in this report," said Paul Burns, Executive Director of VPIRG. "Over the last several years, Vermont state government has become much more transparent about where public money goes, providing citizens with the information they need to hold elected officials and recipients of public subsidies accountable."

"It is gratifying to have our efforts in fiscal transparency recognized by USPIRG. We are proud of what we have accomplished and committed to accessible and transparent government," said Zeller.

To read the full report, CLICK HERE.