U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) evaluated the transparency of governments across the country in matters related to the spending of public funds. In general, PIRG evaluated how well city governments provide online access to government spending and service request data. Researchers examined factors such as the range of the information available to the public, including vendor payments, detailed tax expenditures and budgets. They also looked at how accessible the information is, emphasizing factors such as centralized websites, search capability and the availability of downloadable data. In addition, the rating takes into account how well cities enable residents to make and track service requests online.
Based on such data, PIRG assigned each city a number grade ranging from zero to 100, with higher grades indicating a greater level of transparency.
The report notes that Pittsburgh is among the more transparent cities when it comes to information related to possible conflicts of interest among public officials. Both the mayor and city council members are required to file conflict of interest reports detailing relationships with businesses, corporations, properties, creditors and debtors — all of which are published online and available to the public.