Letters to the Editor

Floridians can help ensure government’s transparency

As Florida’s chief financial officer, I see a lot of data and numbers that have a big impact on our state’s finances and its future. A central focus of my tenure as CFO has been to make that information available to taxpayers by establishing the Transparency Florida website, where Floridians can access details about state spending.

But transparency doesn’t just mean making raw data available, it also means providing the information in a way that taxpayers understand. That is why, on June 6, I am issuing a challenge to the Florida teams of Code for America, a volunteer group that partners with governments to help make public information available in an accessible way.

As part of the National Day for Civic Hacking — an event that encourages computer programmers to get involved in their communities by developing user-friendly web applications — I am challenging Code for Miami and its counterparts in other Florida cities to build on our efforts toward transparency and make our data even easier to understand.

I have challenged them to repackage our vendor payment data from raw spreadsheets to an intuitive web application that makes it easier to understand how the state spends taxpayer dollars.

This is the first statewide challenge in Florida, and I encourage Floridians to get more involved in our government. They can find more information on the Transparency Florida website, myfloridacfo.com/transparency.

Florida is chock-full of innovators and tech-focused entrepreneurs. The state is booming with creative, everyday people who are interested in technology and who want to use their skills to help others. Code for America harnesses the talents of these individuals and connects them with governments to donate their time to better their communities.

As a result, many bright and talented people will spend their Saturday creating a web application that will help all Floridians have better, simpler, easier access to existing information about government spending.

This sort of transparency — where data is not only available but also easy to understand and access — is essential because it allows taxpayers to hold our government accountable for how it spends money.

In Florida, we have talent. Here, we have innovation. Here, we have people who demand transparency from their government. And here, we have people who, when asked to help make our communities better, stand up and say, “Challenge accepted.”

Jeff Atwater, Florida CFO, Tallahassee