Five months after pulling the plug on a $5 million budget transparency program, the Florida Senate passed a bill Wednesday to create a task force to increase transparency but moved no closer to offering the public real-time access to budget data.
The measure, SB 1764, would consolidate most of the state’s nine so-called transparency web sites, allowing the public access to employee data, budget documents and contracts. But before the new web site is available, a task force will be created to recommend a design for consolidating them.
The bill also creates four positions in the Department of Financial Services to manage the contracting system. But for public records advocates, the Senate’s effort is too little too late.
“The public should be able to follow our money in real time and be afforded an opportunity to participate in the budget process,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of the independent government watchdog group Integrity Florida. “It’s disappointing to see lawmakers continue to delay the public launch of a consolidated budget tracking website.”