State website transparency review and assessment

2013 Methodology

(also available in pdf format here)

Following the successful transparency assessments over the last two years, PST is following nearly the same methodology.  Where a score depends on a description of something as “easy to find”, that means it can be found within 4 mouse clicks of the general agency home page.  All questions have 3 possible points, unless otherwise indicated. A total of 32 points is possible.

1. Finding the Agency Website (additive points)

  • 2 points: If you Google (state name) “pipeline safety” or “pipeline regulation”, will you get the right page as a top 5 choice? (And yes, we realize there’s only so much you can do to influence the Google responses)
  • 1 point: If you go to general state government web page and look for, or search for “pipeline safety” or “pipeline regulation” will you get taken to the right page from a menu or will a link to the page be in the top five hits?
  • 0 points: Unable to find the agency page in the top five hits through the steps above

2. Contact Information for Agency Staff

  • 3 points: Easy to find, includes individual name(s), titles, email addresses and phone numbers
  • 2 points: Easy to find, names, titles, email addresses or phone numbers
  • 1 Point: Any shortcoming from 2 points: either hard to find, or missing some aspect of contact info from 2 points
  • 0 points: Anything less, including blind email box for information request

3. Access to State Statutes, Rules; Federal Statutes, Rules (4 points possible; additive)

  • 1 point: Easy to find
  • 1 point: Links to state pipeline safety statutes/rules
  • 1 point: Link to PHMSA standards and rulemakings page for federal regs, or direct link to federal regs
  • 1 bonus point: State regulation links go directly to automatically updated portion(s) of the state regulations and rules having to do with pipeline safety (no downloadable docs/pdf files that need to be updated, and no links to full state code without specific reference to pipeline safety portion)

4. Description of what State Regulates (additive points)

  • 2 points: Does agency site clearly and accurately describe what types of pipelines the state regulates, enforces, and/or inspects under certifications or agreements with PHMSA? (1 point if partial – eg description for gas and not HL if state regulates both)
  • 1 point: Does agency site clearly describe what pipelines the state does NOT regulate/enforce/inspect, and refer reader to PHMSA by appropriate link for pipelines not regulated by state? (If interstate agents for both, no link necessary)
  • 0 Points: Neither of the above descriptions

5. Transmission Pipeline Maps

  • 3 points: Easy to find; can be either link to interactive state mapping system, or link to NPMS public viewer
  • 2 points: Not immediately apparent – need to use search function or fish around (more than 4 clicks) to find maps, either state system or link to NPMS
  • 1 point: Some map(s) – operator system maps, fixed state map of systems, etc.
  • 0 points: It’s not there

6. Pipeline Company Contact Information

  • 3 Points: List of operators, including operator company name, address, contact information, type(s) of pipelines operated and PHMSA operator ID number
  • 2 Points:  Everything but PHMSA operator ID; or link to NPMS operator finder page
  • 1 Point: Anything less than what’s required for 2 points
  • 0 Points:  Not an option

7. Inspection Records

  • 3 points: Shows what types (IM, drug and alcohol, public awareness, leak survey, etc) of state inspections have been done by company, by date, links to records related to inspection, any correspondence, notices of probable violation, etc.
  • 1 point: List of inspections performed by date and company, but no access to documents
  • 0 points: Anything less, including number of inspections or number of inspection days, if not accompanied by more information

8. Incident Data (4 possible points)

  • 3 points:  Link to PHMSA state incident page, or presence of equivalent state page identifying incidents by commodity, location, and identifying operator, nature and cause of incident
  • 1 point: Some sort of information about incidents (map, list)
  • 0 points: Not there
  • 1 Bonus Point (additive): Links to incident investigation reports

9. Enforcement Data

  • 3 points: Enforcement information, with totals by year, and by company: notices of probable violations, fines proposed, fines collected, links to administrative orders, consent orders or settlements or other correspondence closing out enforcement
  • 2 points: Totals by year, by company, but no links to underlying documents; or link to PHMSA state enforcement page
  • 1 point: Some information about enforcement: by operator, or annual totals, or located within the overall docket
  • 0 points: Anything less

10. Excavation Damage Data

  • 3 points: Link to excavation damage data by year, operator, cause, whether a reportable incident occurred
  • 1 point:  Some information about excavation damage events
  • 0 points: Anything less