Integrity Florida and the First Amendment Foundation compared the Transparency 2.0 web site to two existing budget accountability web sites now run by the Legislature and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and, in a side-by-side comparison, concluded the Transparency 2.0 site is more comprehensive, easy to use, and provides documents and context that the other two sites don’t offer.
“Transparency 2.0 gives you not just the information but the context for the information — which makes it more meaningful,’’ said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation. “I am so impressed by it that I think it would be a crime if the governor and the legislature don’t go forward with it.”
Earlier this year Florida’s was given a “D” for its failure to provide online access to government spending data by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The research found that other states, such as Texas, South Dakota, Massachusetts and Mississippi realized “significant cost savings” when they ramped up the transparency of their budget process to allow for more budget transparency.
The Integrity Florida/FAF report acknowledges the questions raised about the no-bid contract given to Spider Data because of its patented software, but called it “ironic since the ... web site would provide complete sunlight on any such proposals going forward” and “the most detailed and comprehensive history of every state vendor contract available in the system.”
Krassner said that while his organization prefers contracts be competitively bid “this might be the rare exception to the rule where you have patented technology no one else had.”
Meanwhile, neither the governor’s office nor the Senate appear ready to embrace the program even though taxpayers have already spent $4.5 million on it.
Scott’s chief budget officer, Jerry McDaniel, has asked for access to the secure site to review it but his review remains in limbo after the governor’s lawyers have said he may not agree to the boilerplate disclosure required to accept a sign-on, said Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers.
Gaetz’s office said he is reviewing the request for an extension of the contract.
The groups said they will make the report available to the public on Friday.
Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MaryEllenKlas and on Twitter @MaryEllenKlas