It remains one of the most perplexing questions surrounding the tug of war over the Senate's now-defunct Transparency 2.0 web site: Why would Senate leaders pay $5 million for a budget transparency web site for members but let it sit idle for more than a year until the contract expired?
Now, a letter from the developers of the web site to Senate President Don Gaetz reveals that user names and logins were provided to 58 Senate members and staff in 2011, including Gaetz himself. It doesn't answer the question but sheds some light on the he-said/she-said nature of this kerfuffle. Download Mattson Response to Senator Gaetz
Gaetz told the Herald/Times in December that he had no recollection of ever getting a log-in for the web site that was set up under previous Senate President Mike Haridopolos to offer unprecedented access to state budget documents and accounting. He said he was underwhelmed by the performance of the web site, when he saw it demonstrated, and disappointed in its cost.
"I was a senator a year ago,'' Gaetz said. "I don’t remember anybody ever saying: ‘here’s your access code.’ I’ve asked for a list of all those who used the data and how often they used it so I could get a sense of the utility.”
The company, Spider Data Systems, provided Gaetz with the list of users earlier this month. It not only includes Gaetz but five other Senate leaders, including Sens. John Thrasher, Andy Gardiner, JD Alexander, Lizbeth Benacquisto and former Senate President Mike Haridopolos. So, why didn't the Senate use this high-priced tool?