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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida gets a B for transparency in government websites

14

September

That's according to a study by the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit organization that analyzes state and local government websites using a transparency checklist.

The group recognized several local entities for having outstanding government websites that provide information on budgets, elected officials, open meetings laws and taxes, among other criteria.

A+ winners include Pinellas County, Duval County, City of Miami, Hillsborough County Public Schools, St. Johns County School District and Palm Beach County School District.

Those high marks were weighed down by the grading of the state website, which accounts for half of the state's overall score. Florida's website, MyFlorida.com, earned a B.

In an analysis, the organization praised MyFlorida.com for providing a current state budget along with the governor's budget proposal for the next fiscal year' providing state tax information; a full list of current contracts; ethics commission information; annual financial audits, listing elected and administrative officials in respective departments; and providing a database of registered lobbyists.

The site lost points for having a tough-to-navigate search function, not providing information on state-paid lobbying and agency lobbying contracts, and not providing "comprehensive information" for making public records requests.

"The transparency gap betwen the outstanding local government sites and the performance of the state site is disappointing," said Michael Barnhart, Sunshine Review president, in a statement. "Clearly a number of local governments in Florida are moving aggressively to provide the information citizens need to hold officials accountable."

The City of Miami got an A+, and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools got a B-. The City of Tampa and Pinellas County Schools each earned a C.

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 5:54pm]

    

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