Atlanta was docked because it doesn't offer anything above and beyond its standard budget documents. Seventeen out of thirty of the cities studies provided residents with online access to "checkbook level" details of expenditures. Atlanta was one of the five failing cities that provided no online checkbook for the cities expenses, which inhibits citizens from knowing what their tax dollars are going to fund.
The report shows that transparency websites cost little to start up, and increase efficiency and ultimately save money in the long run. One of the major benefits to such sites is that it reduces the need for cities to process as many open records requests. Making the information available for wide consumption also helps keep officials accountable to the public. The argument often used in the State Legislature is that disclosure is enough to maintain ethical standards. Having this data on a city level would be one step closer to having a more transparent city, and helping residents trust their local government.
In a press release Laura Murray, Advocate for the Georgia PIRG Education Fund, highlighted how important these standards are saying, "City spending has a profound impact on residents' lives through basic government functions such as policing, sanitation and public health. Spending transparency can help Atlanta's population hold their elected leaders accountable and ensure that tax dollars are well spent."
In order for Atlanta to increase its transparency rating it would need to implement some of the suggestions outlined by Georgia PRIG, namely:
You can read the full report here.