Integrity Florida applauds Gov. Scott, legislators for new laws increasing government transparency and accountability

May 20 • 1043 Views • View Comments

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Statement from Dan Krassner, executive director of the independent government watchdog group Integrity Florida on Governor Rick Scott signing HB 5401 increasing government transparency and accountability:

“Florida is moving in the right direction for open budgets, open contracts and open data. Instead of numerous web sites with state budget information, Floridians will soon be able to follow how our tax dollars are spent in one place. The public will now be able to better track who our state government is doing business with and we’ll actually be able to see the contracts.

Integrity Florida is confident that these transparency measures will result in cost savings for Florida taxpayers. As procurement processes and the state budget become more open and easier for the public to track, bad contracts and wasteful spending will be harder to hide.

Lawmakers recognized the importance of freeing the data by incorporating searchable and downloadable standards in the new law. Mobile app developers and IT professionals should be able to make the newly available information useable for the public through innovative technologies. Open data means jobs for Floridians and opportunity for entrepreneurs to make creative use of government information. Government information should be public information, with very few exceptions.

We applaud Governor Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senator Jeremy Ring, Senator Alan Hays, Senator Joe Negron, Senator Jack Latvala, Representative Ricardo Rangel, Representative Clay Ingram, Representative Jose Javier Rodríguez and other lawmakers who contributed to this significant government transparency and accountability reform effort.”

Summary of HB 5401 for open budgets, open contracts and open data:

Open budgets
* The Executive Office of the Governor to establish a website making certain information relating to the state budget open to the public.
* The bill creates a User Experience Task Force tasked with developing a design for consolidating existing state-managed websites that provide public access to state operational and fiscal information into a single website.
* Adds search criteria and informational requirements to the existing state budget website.

Open contracts
* The Chief Financial Officer to provide public access to a state contract management system providing specified information relating to government contracts.
* Requires the creation of a single website through which all other websites required by the act may be accessed.
* Expands the posting requirements to include the contract itself, certain related procurement documents, and additional related information.

Open data
* Creates style and formatting requirements for all websites required by the act.
* Requires the creation of a website relating to state employee and officer data.
* Requires the creation of a website relating to state fiscal planning data.

Read the full bill summary here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/billsummaries/2013/html/452

Related Integrity Florida research reports:

Budget Transparency Website Recommendations to Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability – January 23, 2013

Budget Transparency in the Sunshine State – December 7, 2012

Statement from Dan Krassner, executive director of the independent government watchdog group Integrity Florida on Governor Rick Scott signing SB 406 increasing government transparency and accountability:

“Floridians will finally see a thorough review of the state’s economic development programs to better understand if the subsidies strategy is in the public’s best interest. As taxpayers, we deserve to know if we are getting a return on investment for our money from these subsidies. This law restores accountability to the brownfield program, aligning it more closely with its original intent.

Some of the key lawmakers advancing these good government reforms include: Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, Senator Andy Gardiner, Senator Eleanor Sobel, Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez and Representative Ray Rodrigues.”

Summary of SB 406 for Enterprise Florida transparency and accountability:

Oversight of Economic Development Incentives

* The bill creates a rotating, 3-year review schedule for state incentives and economic development programs to be evaluated by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) and the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA).
* The bill directs that all applicants for an incentive be evaluated for “economic benefits” in the same manner, and streamlines the reports and reporting dates that must be submitted by agencies administering economic development programs.
* An applicant filing an economic incentives application or providing other information to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for contract compliance is required to attest that the information provided is true.
* Effective October 1, 2013, DEO is directed to publish on its website project-specific information about economic development incentives provided to businesses.
* The bill limits where a project can be located in order to receive a sales tax refund for building materials and the brownfield redevelopment bonus refunds for jobs created.
* The project must be located on a site that has entered into a site rehabilitation agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (or a local government delegated by DEP) or on a parcel of property that abuts the site.

Read the full bill summary here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/billsummaries/2013/html/404

Related Integrity Florida research reports:

Corruption Risk Report: Enterprise Florida – April 25, 2012

Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare? – February 5, 2013

Integrity Florida is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption.

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Contact Us:
Integrity Florida, (850) 321-0432, dan@integrityfl.org, IntegrityFlorida.org

 

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