State website transparency review and assessment

2014 Methodology

(also available in pdf format here)

Instructions for scoring – Fall 2014

Following the successful transparency assessments over the last three years, PST is using nearly the same methodology for state pipeline safety agencies.

State Pipeline Safety Agency Review Criteria

All questions have 3 possible points; a total of 33 points is possible. 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.

1. Finding the Agency Website (additive points)

  • 2 points: If you Google (state name) plus “pipeline safety” or “pipeline regulation” you will get the right page as a top 5 choice
  • 1 point: If you go to general state government web page and look for, or search for “pipeline safety” or “pipeline regulation” you will get taken to the right page from a menu or a link to the page will 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 staff list and titles, email addresses and phone numbers
  • 2 points: Easy to find, contact email addresses or phone number
  • 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 (additive)

  • 1 point: Easy to find
  • 1 point: Links to state pipeline safety statutes/rules that 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)
  • 1 point: Link to PHMSA standards and rulemakings page for federal regs, or direct link to federal regs

4. Description of State authority (what the state does and does not regulate) (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: Nothing on site

7. Inspection Records (additive points)

  • 1 point: Links to records related to inspection, any correspondence, follow up, etc.
  • 1 point: List and type of inspections performed by date and company, but no access to documents
  • 1 point: General description of different types of inspections performed or link to PHMSA description page – http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/Inspection.htm
  • 0 points: No Info

8. Incident Data (additive points)

  • 1 point: Links to incident investigation reports
  • 1 point: 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

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 (additive points)

  • 1 point: Excavation damage data includes operator, cause, whether a reportable incident occurred, etc.
  • 1 point: Excavation data describes how data was obtained and whether reporting it is voluntary or mandatory
  • 1 point: Excavation damage data for the state by year
  • 0 points: Anything less

11. Siting and Routing Information (additive points)

  • 1 point: Explanation of process different types of pipelines in the state must follow for permission to construct new or expand existing lines
  • 1 point: Links to appropriate federal and/or state agencies with routing/siting authority
  • 1 point: Information about whether agency has involvement in permitting or routing new transmission or gathering pipelines