Some good news for Florida’s citizenry: on Wednesday, Governor Crist signed the Transparency Florida Act into law – making it easier for citizens to track state spending down to state workers’ cell phones and agency cable television charges. The legislation requires the Governor’s Office to create a website that provides information on every appropriation found in the General Appropriation Act for each branch of state government and state agency. At a minimum, the data must include expenditures, appropriations adjustments, the status of spending authority for each appropriation, and position and rate information on state employees (but not their names).
The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee will oversee the website and will propose additional phases of information to be made available. The committee will provide a proposal by March 1, 2010, to be submitted to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, that will include a schedule of additional phases of information by the type of information to be provided for specific governmental entities, including local government units, community colleges, state universities and other government entities that receive state appropriations.
The first installment of expenditure information will likely be available to taxpayer scrutiny by July of this year. While the Transparency Forida Act is not necessarily everything one could want in terms of level of detail (the required information for now is restricted to information currently available in the financial management system and for expenditure information extends to the name of the payee, the date of the expenditure, the amount of the expenditure and the statewide document number), it certainly is a big step in the right direction.