Florida’s new legislative leadership team and the 44 new legislators who took the oath of office in Tallahassee last Tuesday pledged to keep close tabs on the state budget and weed out waste in government contracts.
"Let’s make sure we’re getting value received and the best price," said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, shortly after being sworn in as the Senate’s new president.
But if history is a guide, few will master the task because access to budget information across numerous agency platforms is notoriously complicated and difficult to access.
That could change if a software program quietly developed by a former House budget staffer, licensed by the state Senate under former Senate president Mike Haridopolos, and financed with $5 million of taxpayer dollars, is launched instead of allowed to expire at the end of the year.
Knowledge is power in Tallahassee and the software program, Transparency 2.0, developed and patented by Spider Data Systems, has the power to level the budgetary knowledge game. It also packs another powerful punch: the potential to expose the secrets of government officials and lobbyists who trade in these transactions.