The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is proud to launch the Transparency Stars program, recognizing local governments for going above and beyond in their transparency efforts. The program recognizes government entities that accomplish the following:

  • open their books not only in their traditional finances, but also in the areas of contracts and procurement, economic development, public pensions and debt obligations.
  • provide clear and meaningful financial information not only by posting financial documents, but also through summaries, visualizations, downloadable data and other relevant information.

The Transparency Stars program features:

  • A streamlined application process A short web form enables you to submit nominations with minimal data entry and a few mouse clicks. Various types of software can be used to meet program requirements. The Comptroller does not partner with or endorse vendors for the Transparency Stars program.
  • Adaptability. You can apply for one or more Stars, up to five. Entities must first receive a Traditional Finances Star, but may apply for Stars in up to four other areas:
  • Honorary distinction. The new program recognizes great breadth and depth in the information presented for each specific Transparency Star awarded, making each star a prestigious achievement. The Stars stand on their own and are not awarded along a continuum or with an expectation that entities should be attaining five out of five stars.

There are no application deadlines for Transparency Stars.

Transparency Stars are granted and maintained on an ongoing basis.

Below is an overview of the Transparency Stars criteria. Please review the detailed guidelines for the area(s) for which you would like to apply.

Dedicated Page or Section of Website

A dedicated page or subsection within the finance or transparency section of your website should show how your entity has made efforts to open its books to present information in a user-friendly, understandable format.

The page or website section should include a general narrative overview of the transparency area and other pertinent items. This page, and all items within, should be accessible by no more than three clicks from your entity's home page.

Transparency Area Summary

Post a summary separately from audits and financial reports and provide citizens with a short list and narrative overview of facts or figures for your entity's activities in this transparency area. The summary should include explanations (or links to explanations) for difficult to decipher terminology as well as comparisons with benchmarks or historical figures as appropriate. The Comptroller's office provides a form to help you post this information to your website.

Visualizations

Post at least two charts or interactive visual tools providing a snapshot of your local government's activities for this transparency area. The Comptroller's office prescribes requirements for the charts — for example, a time trend going back at least five years — and provides templates you can use if helpful. The visualizations must be posted on the page itself and must be – like all the required information on the transparency page or section – easy to view and to interpret.

Documents

Post documents specific to each transparency area, in addition to the sponsoring entity's audits and annual financial reports. Pertinent documents vary by transparency area, but in general, documents for the last five fiscal years should be posted if available, or going back to the entity's first year if the entity is younger than five years.

Downloadable Data

Make at least two downloadable datasets available. The Comptroller's office prescribes the general topic areas datasets must focus on — for example, check register data going back at least three fiscal years (i.e., 36 months). Additionally, datasets should be available in a tabular or spreadsheet format that's searchable and conducive to analysis.

Other Information

Applicants must make contact information clearly accessible on their sites and must also link their transparency information to the Comptroller of Public Accounts Transparency website. Additionally, applicants should link their transparency sites or sections to any other applicable content, including reference information, such as GASB statements pertaining to the transparency area under consideration.