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Transparency FL’s not-so-transparent tech contract.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander’s effort to “put Florida’s checkbook online” via the Transparency Florida website was designed turn 19 million Floridians into at-home auditors who could see how the state spends its money.

Here’s one expenditure that, we're told, does pop up: a no-bid contract with Cognos, an IBM subsidiary, for software and some tech support to run the Transparency Florida website. Alexander estimated the cost at $500,000.

Alexander says this contract differs from the state agency technology contracts he has criticized because it was relatively inexpensive and because Transparency Florida has yielded tangible results.

“This software is what we needed. It’s ready to go,” Alexander said. “It was pretty unique. It was off the shelf software. It was plug and play. That’s why we could do it so quickly and cheaply."

Still, couldn’t the Legislature have saved money by bidding it out?

“Possibly,” Alexander said. He said the software was recommended by tech-savvy staff.