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Evaluation of Florida state website

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MyFlorida.com is the website for the state of Florida.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB
Budget
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Usability P
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Ethics
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying P
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Public records
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Taxes
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State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on January 13, 2012.

The good

  • The state has an "Online Sunshine" section.[1]
  • Lobbyist lists[2] and ethics information are posted.[3]
  • Information is available on the state's public records law,[4] and individual departments have instructions and contacts for making records requests.
  • Tax information is posted.[5]
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[6]
  • Administrative officials' contact information is available.[7]
  • Audits are posted.[8]
  • Contracts are posted in a searchable database.[9][10]
  • Budgets are posted (access previous year's budgets by selecting the year on the specific budget output).[11]

The bad

  • The site has a search function, but is somewhat difficult to navigate, particularly regarding financial information.
  • No information is available on Taxpayer-funded lobbying.

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "D" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 59 out of 100.[12]

The scorecard that U.S. PIRG uses has 13 items and focuses on a separate state website that is searchable at the checkbook level. Sunshine Review, on the other hand, focuses on the availability of separate spending-related items; they do not need to be in a central database.

Item Possible points Notes
Checkbook-level website 30 Detailed expenditure information, including individual payments made to vendors.
Search by vendor 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by contractor or vendor name.
Search by keyword of activity 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by type of service or item purchased, category, or government fund.
Search by agency or departments 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by branch of government.
Contract or summary information 10 A copy of the contract or detailed summary information is included for the expenditures.
Historical expenditures 5 Checkbook-level expenditure data from previous fiscal years.
Grants and economic development incentives information 10 Awardee-specific grants and/or economic development incentives are included in the checkbook tool or elsewhere with specific award amounts.
Downloadable 3 Information can be downloaded for data analysis.
Tax expenditure reports 10 The state's tax expenditure report is linked on the website.
Off-budget agencies 2 Expenditures from quasi-public agencies are included on the website.
City and county budgets 2 Financial information for some local governments is accessible.
ARRA Funding 2 A link is provided to the state's website that tracks funding related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Feedback 2 Website users are capable and encouraged to give feedback about the site.

There are several similarities between the checklists. For both checklists, the searchability of information factors in to how usability is rated. Both checklists have an item relating to contracts, tax information, and the budget. The U.S. PIRG requires information for quasi public entities; Sunshine Review requires information on lobbying, which includes quasi public entities' lobbying activity.

Unlike the Sunshine Review checklist with each check worth one point, different items on the U.S. PIRG checklist merit more or fewer points, depending on the item.

State Integrity Investigation

The 2012 State Integrity Investigation graded state ethics laws according to an "Integrity Index." The index was created by researching 330 "Integrity Indicators" across 14 categories of state government. The report assigned grades based on what laws are on the books, and whether or not they were effectively enforced. The report was a project of The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.[13]

Florida received an overall grade of C, or 71%. It ranked 18 out of the 50 states.[14]

Category Grade
Public Access to Information D+
Political Financing D-
Executive Accountability C-
Legislative Accountability C-
Judicial Accountability D-
State Budget Processes C-
State Civil Service Management D-
Procurement B-
Internal Auditing A
Lobbying Disclosure D
State Pension Fund Management D
Ethics Enforcement Agencies F
State Insurance Commissions C-
Redistricting A

Transparency Legislation

Resources

Resource Run by Includes
Transparency Florida (CFO) State of Florida Spending, budgets, contracts, financial reports
Transparency Florida State of Florida Operating budget and reports
Recovery Reports State of Florida Federal stimulus spending
Florida Has a Right to Know State of Florida Contracts, state spending, regulation, rulemaking, state payroll, pensions
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in State Politics Campaign contributions
Florida Open Government Foundation for Government Accountability Spending and payroll data

Other

Salaries

State and Local Employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Florida and local governments in the state employed a total of 1,049,028 people.[16] Of those employees, 832,252 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $3,302,955,436 per month and 216,776 were part-time employees paid $213,151,877 per month.[16] More than 51% of those employees, or 539,321 employees, were in education or higher education.[16]

As of 2009, the three state employees earning the most money were:[17]

Eric Smith, the Commissioner of Education, made $275,000

Kenneth Keck, the Executive Director of the Department of Citrus, made $206,000

Willis Holcombe, the Chancellor of Community Colleges, made $189,999

State Government Employee Salaries- Select School Superintendents[18]
District '08 Salary Total Compensation Current Superintendent
Brevard $204,941.00 $265,613.00 Richard DiPatri
Dade $275,000.00 $330,502.00 Alberto Cavalho
Hillsborough $257,958.00 $297,231.00 MaryEllen Elia
Jackson $99,554.00 $130,897.00 Lee Miller
Palm Beach $249,999.00 $315,000.00 Arthur Johnson
Sarasota $179,620.00 $266,207.00 Lori White

Benefits

All full-time employees of the state receive benefits on top of their salary, including health care and life-insurance. Additional benefits such as dental coverage are available for reduced costs.[19]

Time Off

Full-Time employees of the state of receive vacation based on years of employment.

  • less than 5 years: 8.667 hours a month
  • 5-10 years: 10.883 hours a month
  • Over 10 years: 13 hours a month

All full-time employees received 8.667 hours of sick leave per month, usable for personal or family illness. Other reasons for paid leave include:

  • Jury Duty
  • Voting
  • Disaster Service Volunteers
  • Death of Immediate Family
  • State Office Building Closure

The official paid holidays for state offices are:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King's Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans' Day
  • Thanksgiving Day and day after Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

In addition, each employee can designate one day a year as a personal holiday.

Insurance

Health insurance Employees can choose between a State Group Health Self-Insurance Plan, or several different HMOs. Dental insurance is also available at a reduced rate. Employees can also purchase dental and have access to the Flexible Spending Accounts Program.

Life insurance is provided at a discount for 1.5 times the base salary for regular employees. Senior Management and Select Exempt Service employees receive life insurance at no cost for 2 times their base salary.

Teachers

The average salary paid to a Florida public K-12 school teacher for the 2009-10 school year was $46,696, a decrease of $242 (-0.52%) over the average salary of $46,938 for the 2008-09 school year.[20]

Pensions

Florida state employees and teachers participate in the Florida Retirement System (FRS). In the FRS, the employee selects from a pension plan and investment plan. Only the state pays into the plan, employees do not contribute.[21]

The state has made at least 90% of its required contribution each year since 2000. Although the state did not make the entire contribution in four of the past 12 years, it over-contributed in other years, averaging 102% of what it was required to pay.[22] The state has legally mandated that pension surpluses of less than 5% of total liabilities will be reserved to pay for unexpected losses in the system.[22]

Plan Current Value Percentage funded Unfunded liabilities Total state employees Avg. pension
Florida Retirement System $124.2 billion 87.9 percent $16.7 billion 655,000 active members $23,000

A new report released by the Florida legislature's policy analysis arm shows Florida's public pension is better funded, incurs lower investment fees and...investment returns are average compared to other states. The report indicates the plan is 87.9 percent funded as of June 30, 2010, which is higher than Gov. Rick Scott has suggested. The report notes that under actuarial rules, the state has 30 years to make up the shortfall through investment earnings. In his campaign for governor, Scott ran ads claiming that the fund had lost $24 billion. At the time he ran the ads, the fund had recovered all but $6 billion as a result of the Wall Street collapse, and has since restored almost all of its 2007 value, which the governor used as a benchmark.[23]

Public Records

The Florida Sunshine Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the public records of governmental bodies in Florida. The law was first enacted in 1995. The original statutes state:

The Florida Open Meetings Law (Fla. Stat. sec 286) governs the extent to which public meetings are open to the public.
The Florida Public Records Law (Fla. Stat. sec. 119) governs the inspection and copying of public records.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in Florida, please see: Florida FOIA procedures.

Recent news

Florida has a Right to Know

Florida Governor Rick Scott has created a new web site for transparency in Florida which includes: state spending, contracts, regulations, state payroll, pensions, and more.[24] He also re-established the Office of Open Government on March 3, 2011 with Executive Order 11-03.[25]

Gov. Scott also launched "Project Sunburst" which will give the public access to his e-mails and the e-mails of his top 11 staffers.[26]

External links

References

  1. State of Florida "Online Sunshine," accessed January 13, 2012
  2. State of Florida "Lobbyist Information," accessed January 13, 2012
  3. State of Florida "Florida Commission on Ethics," accessed January 13, 2012
  4. State of Florida "Open Government," accessed January 13, 2012
  5. State of Florida "Taxes," accessed January 13, 2012
  6. State of Florida "Florida Government Information," accessed January 13, 2012
  7. State of Florida "Directory," accessed January 13, 2012
  8. State of Florida "Financial Reporting," accessed January 13, 2012
  9. State of Florida "Contracts," accessed January 13, 2012
  10. State of Florida "State Contract Agreements," accessed January 13, 2012
  11. State of Florida "State Budget Information," accessed January 13, 2012
  12. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  13. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  14. Florida Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
  15. James Madison Institute "Government Transparency," accessed January 29, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 2008 Florida Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  17. "How much do state employees make? Look up salaries here" May 2009
  18. [1]
  19. State of Florida Employee Benefits
  20. Florida Department of Education Education Information and Accountability Service Data Report Aug. 2010
  21. FRS Plans Overview
  22. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trillion
  23. TampaBay.com, Analysts Say State's Pension Plan Stronger than Most States, March 4, 2011
  24. Florida Has a Right to Know
  25. "GovMonitor" Florida Launches Open Government And Transparency Website March 17, 2011
  26. St. Augustine Record, Scott lets public open his email box at new website, May 4, 2012