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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Atwater wants a transparent budget



New CFO Jeff Atwater vowed to make Florida's budget easier to navigate online as part of his efforts to make the Department of Financial Services more transparent.

A reporter questioned why it is much easier to access budgets of county and municipal governments than the state's. Speaking to reporters at the AP legislative planning session, Atwater pointed to recent but still flawed efforts he and former CFO Alex Sink made in recent years.

Atwater, a former Senate president, said he was proud of, the Legislature's latest attempt to show how taxpayer dollars are spent. Still, it's not easy to navigate. Neither, he said, is Florida's Checkbook, an initiative led by predecessor Alex Sink that offers expenditures and other features.

"The question and criticism is well taken," he said.

Atwater also wants the public to have access to government contracts online, saying he believes more eyes will create more accountability.

Also on Atwaters to-do list: cracking down on scammers and staged auto accidents. He said Florida is No. 1 in the country for staged auto accidents. "That is one title I'm eager to give away."

Earlier in the day, Gov. Rick Scott criticized previous state budgets, calling them "bloated" but did not offer specifics. Atwater, who as president of the Senate held great influence over the budget, said he was proud of the budgets created under his direction.

"I thought we were thoughtful and careful and responsible with what we did," he said.


[Last modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 3:38pm]


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