Evaluation of Florida state website
This website was reviewed on January 13, 2012.
- The state has an "Online Sunshine" section.
- Lobbyist lists and ethics information are posted.
- Information is available on the state's public records law, and individual departments have instructions and contacts for making records requests.
- Tax information is posted.
- Elected officials are listed with contact information.
- Administrative officials' contact information is available.
- Audits are posted.
- Contracts are posted in a searchable database.
- Budgets are posted (access previous year's budgets by selecting the year on the specific budget output)
- 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 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.
|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.
Florida received an overall grade of C, or 71%. It ranked 18 out of the 50 states.
|Public Access to Information||D+|
|State Budget Processes||C-|
|State Civil Service Management||D-|
|State Pension Fund Management||D|
|Ethics Enforcement Agencies||F|
|State Insurance Commissions||C-|
|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|
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. 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. More than 51% of those employees, or 539,321 employees, were in education or higher education.
As of 2009, the three state employees earning the most money were:
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 in $189,999
|District||'08 Salary||Total Compensation||Current Superintendent|
|Palm Beach||$249,999.00||$315,000.00||Arthur Johnson|
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. 
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
|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. 
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
- See also: Florida transparency headlines
Florida has a Right to Know
Florida Governor Ballotpedia:Rick Scott has created a new web site for transparency in Florida which includes: state spending, contracts, regulations, state payroll, pensions, and more. He also re-established the Office of Open Government on March 3, 2011 with Executive Order 11-03.
- Florida House
- Florida Senate
- Attorney General
- Contact the Governor
- See sample transparency legislation at the Sunshine Standard
- Florida on State Budget Solutions
- ↑ State of Florida "Online Sunshine," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Lobbyist Information," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Florida Commission on Ethics," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Open Government," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Taxes," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Florida Government Information," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Directory," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Financial Reporting," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "Contracts," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "State Contract Agreements," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ State of Florida "State Budget Information," Accessed January 13, 2012
- ↑ US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
- ↑ "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
- ↑ Florida Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation, StateIntegrity.org
- ↑ James Madison Institute "Government Transparency," Accessed January 29, 2012
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 2008 Florida Public Employment U.S. Census Data
- ↑ "How much do state employees make? Look up salaries here" May 2009
- ↑ 
- ↑ State of Florida Employee Benefits
- ↑ Florida Department of Education Education Information and Accountability Service Data Report Aug. 2010
- ↑ FRS Plans Overview
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ TampaBay.com, Analysts Say State's Pension Plan Stronger than Most States, March 4, 2011
- ↑ Florida Has a Right to Know
- ↑ "GovMonitor" Florida Launches Open Government And Transparency Website March 17, 2011
- ↑ St. Augustine Record, Scott lets public open his email box at new website, May 4, 2012
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