FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 30, 2012
CONTACTS:
Tanja Clendinen – tanja@jamesmadison.org – 850.383.4633.Government Transparency in the Sunshine State
JMI policy brief details Florida’s progress in 2012 and the work ahead for 2013TALLAHASSEE – Recent reports and news stories have focused on the need for more transparency in governmental entities and projects, such as Enterprise Florida and stimulus fund expenditures.  However, on balance, the level of government transparency in Florida has increased in the last year.Last month The James Madison Institute released a policy brief on government transparency, “Proactive Disclosure in the Sunshine State: A 2012 Progress Report on Government Transparency,” written by William Mattox, JMI Resident Fellow. The report was based on the results from a “Ten Point Transparency Checklist” developed by open government experts and applied by the Sunshine Review to assess approximately 5,000 state and local government websites. Grading criteria include budgets, open meetings, elected officials, administrative officials, building permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records, and taxes.Key findings of the brief included:

The number of local government websites in Florida earning an A grade increased to 28 from 22 in 2011.
Once again,Florida has more jurisdictions earning an A grade than any other state. Only Texas (21), Illinois (19), andVirginia (14) had at least half as many Sunny Award winners as Florida (28).
Overall, the Sunshine State received a cumulative transparency grade of B. This grade was held down by the high number of “problem sites” (those earning a transparency grade of D or F), which declined only modestly to 42 from 46 in 2011.
Failing to provide citizens good information about how to access government audits and about how to access public records were the most common transparency problems.

“Although the Sunshine State still has much room for improvement, Florida continues to be a national leader in government transparency, and many citizens have reason to be pleased with the priority that their public officials are giving to proactive disclosure of government information.” –-William Mattox, JMI Resident FellowAll JMI publications are available on-line at www.jamesmadison.org.  To comment or request a copy, contact Tanja Clendinen at 850.383.4633 (toll free 1.866.340.3131) or Tanja@jamesmadison.org.