The program works by taking data from the state’s legacy systems — the Legislative Appropriations System Planning and Budgeting Subsystem (LAS/PBS), the Florida Accounting Information Resource (FLAIR), the People First personnel system and the State Contracts Management System (SCMS). It has not been given access to the contracts in the MyFloridaMarketplace System.
The Herald compared the search functions of Atwater’s FACTs system and with the state’s TransparencyFlorida.gov web site and found that the information provided by the Spider Data programs was more comprehensive and complete and searches were more productive. Detail about the state’s base budget can be tracked by salaries and benefits; contracts can be searched based on their relationship with planning documents and monitoring reports, and details about contracts are provided in context.
For example, a search of an exclusive contract Haridopolos inserted into the budget this year on behalf of Evidence Based Associates, a Washington-based probation program, to divert at-risk youth into community programs turned up links to the contract, budgetary planning documents, a report on the program by the Office of Program and Policy Analysis and related spending by the state’s Juvenile Probation Program.
A sort by vendor found that EBA has been paid $2.3 million in this budget year for its contracts. A link to the accounting details showed the amount of each of the checks paid to the company. A link to its contracts detailed two contracts held by EBA, one valued at $19.8 million over six years and another valued at $5.3 million over five years. The contract detail also answers a series of questions such as: Was this contract competitively procured? No. Has a business case or cost benefit analysis been completed since the award of the contract? No. Does the contract contain performance metrics? Yes.
By contrast, the TranparencyFlorida.gov site about EBA provided a list of the five payments totaling $2.3 million made to the program this budget year but offer no other cross references or details of the contract. A search of Atwater’s web site found no links to planning documents or OPPAGA reports but did provide contract details and answers to the contract questions.
Absent from the program was all House budget data and work papers that would make that chamber’s input searchable.
"This administration has not been approached by Spider Data to be a part of their contract,’’ said House Speaker Will Weatherford in a statement. “Any discussions with Spider Data occurred under previous administrations.” As speaker of the House, he said, he will “look for ways the House can be more transparent to the public."