Determined to prove that legislators are committed to government transparency, a Senate committee convened Thursday to explore ways to give the public more details about the state’s $70 billion dollar budget.
The Senate Government Operations and Accountability Committee took up the issue after rejecting a $5 million budget transparency program — known as Transparency 2.0 — that was negotiated in secret.
The committee heard a staff report that nine state-run web sites portend to offer a level of transparency, but require the public to go to several of them to get a complete budget picture.
Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, an independent ethics watchdog group, told the committee that even with numerous web sites there are elements of the budget that remain off limits to the public. Among them: the Legislature’s contracts, budget planning documents of state agencies and legislative salary data.
The solution, Krassner said, is for the state to move to open data, allowing the public access to many of its information databases.
“Let’s free the data,’’ Krassner said. “That doesn’t involve significant cost. In fact, it probably involves cost savings…You have all these web sites powered by the same types of databases, but the databases are not public.” Story here.