Throughout my nearly two decades in public service, I have been committed to transparency and open government. I fully believe that in order for government to run properly, it needs to be held accountable by the people. In fact, the Florida Constitution, which sets forth our rights as citizens of this great state, provides that the public has the right to know how government officials spend taxpayer dollars and make the decisions affecting their lives. Sunshine Week is an excellent way not only to inform the public on the importance of open government, but also to let them know about their rights under
Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law.
The benefits of open government are frequently acknowledged—transparency promotes accountability, aids the search for truth, and fosters consistency and fairness in governmental decision making. Fortunately, though, Florida’s laws do not require that open government be justified by reference to these desirable consequences. We live in a state that values open government for its own sake, and for that we should all be thankful.
According to the Florida Supreme Court, a public record includes all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. Florida leads the nation in providing public access to government meetings and records, and transparency and open government have always been a priority in my office as we assist with public records requests every day.
Making a public records request is easy, and it can be done over the phone, through email, letter, or in-person. If a governmental agency does not comply with the Government-in-the-Sunshine law, the local state attorney has the authority to prosecute.
The people of Florida have elected me to protect their rights, and I will continue to protect those rights. The Attorney General’s Office houses Open Government, and we view transparency and open government as a top priority.