The Foundation for Government Accountability believes strongly that open, transparent government is critical in a free society. Without transparency, citizens’ and taxpayers’ Right to Know is non-existent. Openness guarantees we can learn how government officials—elected and unelected—are spending our hard earned tax dollars, and what the impact of public policies are across the state.
When it comes to public records laws, FGA’s experiences have been positive. Most of the officials with whom we have interacted have been timely and professional in complying with our requests, and have demonstrated a sincere respect for citizens’ Right to Know.
But, as the Sunshine Review points out, there is always room for improvement.
From the Herald:
In an analysis, the organization praised MyFlorida.com for providing a current state budget along with the governor’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year’ providing state tax information; a full list of current contracts; ethics commission information; annual financial audits, listing elected and administrative officials in respective departments; and providing a database of registered lobbyists.
The site lost points for having a tough-to-navigate search function, not providing information on state-paid lobbying and agency lobbying contracts, and not providing “comprehensive information” for making public records requests.
Frankly, the state deserves to lose a few points. We the people have a right to know who the state is paying (with our tax dollars) to lobby, and on what issues. And the state’s site should tell users how to utilize Florida’s public records laws to access public information. This tool is critical.
The good news? Florida can raise its grade and improve transparency with a few tweaks and additions to the state site. It’s worth the effort. Florida has been a national leader in promoting government transparency and public access. A transparency grade of B just doesn’t cut it.