Sunshine Week Editorial

As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, it is my duty to be a watchdog for how our government spends Floridians’ hard-earned tax dollars. There are few things more important than holding our government accountable. Accountability requires transparency, a principle of which Florida has consistently been on the cutting edge. With groundbreaking legislation in 1909 and again in 1967, Florida’s government has proudly promoted openness in its actions and operated “in the sunshine.”

Considering our state’s budget is measured not in the millions or even hundreds of millions, but in billions of dollars annually, keeping track of how the state of Florida spends your money is no small feat.

Most of the people I speak with across our state agree: the sheer size of Florida’s budget creates plenty of opportunity for inefficiency, as well as, waste, fraud and abuse. If left unchecked, inefficient government can rob citizens of their hard-earned dollars.

These principles served as the inspiration for the development of the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), a comprehensive online tool that will offer Floridians greater visibility into how their government is doing business. The new FACTS tool, which will be launched this spring on my Transparency Florida website, will make state contracting processes transparent through a centralized, statewide contract reporting system. As you will see, the new contracts feature isn’t just a feature to me; it is the guiding principle upon which government transparency is built.

The FACTS system reflects my longstanding commitment to my fellow Floridians to make state contracts accessible to the public online. Through FACTS, Floridians can now see how their government is deploying their tax dollars at the click of a mouse. Nearly $51 billion, or approximately 57 percent of the state budget, is spent on contracts and agreements for goods and services. A robust and complete contract tracking system is an important first step in multi-phased state contracting reforms. I am confident that this system will ensure higher levels of efficiency and accountability from our government and elected leaders.

The success of any transparency initiative depends on citizen involvement. We have a government that is of the people and for the people, and now we’re using the Internet to open the doors of government to the people. My commitment to my fellow Floridians is to keep more of your money in your pockets where it belongs. Together we can help Florida, the best state in the country, become the most open and transparent state in the country.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse, and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.

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