Liz Farmer is a GOVERNING finance writer.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two government watchdog groups say Florida could save millions of dollars if a budget transparency website, which taxpayers have already spent $4.5 million on, were allowed to go live, according to the St. Augustine Record.
The website, which is called Transparency 2.0, is a searchable database that, according to the report, is more comprehensive and easier to track government spending on contracts, salaries and budgets than two existing budget accountability websites.
It was developed by the state Senate, but has been kept on hold for the past year because neither the Senate nor the governor's office will take responsibility for maintaining and paying for the website, the paper reports.
The First Amendment Foundation and Integrity Florida concluded that the governor could achieve his goal in budget accountability if the program was funded.
The joint report also concludes that policymakers could hold state agencies accountable for their performance and state officials “would be forced to justify the way they spend Floridian’s tax dollars,” state officials told the paper.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group gave Florida a “D” for its online availability of government spending data to the public. The group said that other states -- Texas, South Dakota, Massachusetts and Mississippi, for example -- cut costs when they increased their budget transparency.
The report was requested by Senate President Don Gaetz and Gov. Rick Scott.