Florida Senate - 2014 CS for SB 318 By the Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability; and Senator Stargel 585-02540-14 2014318c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public meetings; amending s. 3 1004.28, F.S.; providing an exemption from public 4 meeting requirements for any portion of a meeting of 5 the board of directors of a university direct-support 6 organization, or of the executive committee or other 7 committees of such board, at which any proposal 8 seeking research funding from the organization or a 9 plan or program for either initiating or supporting 10 research is discussed; providing for review and repeal 11 of the exemption; providing a statement of public 12 necessity; providing an effective date. 13 14 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 15 16 Section 1. Subsection (5) of section 1004.28, Florida 17 Statutes, is amended to read: 18 1004.28 Direct-support organizations; use of property; 19 board of directors; activities; audit; facilities.— 20 (5) ANNUAL AUDIT; PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION; PUBLIC MEETINGS 21 EXEMPTION.— 22 (a) Each direct-support organization shall provide for an 23 annual financial audit of its accounts and records to be 24 conducted by an independent certified public accountant in 25 accordance with rules adopted by the Auditor General pursuant to 26 s. 11.45(8) and by the university board of trustees. The annual 27 audit report shall be submitted, within 9 months after the end 28 of the fiscal year, to the Auditor General and the Board of 29 Governors for review. The Board of Governors, the university 30 board of trustees, the Auditor General, and the Office of 31 Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability shall have 32 the authority to require and receive from the organization or 33 from its independent auditor any records relative to the 34 operation of the organization. The identity of donors who desire 35 to remain anonymous shall be protected, and that anonymity shall 36 be maintained in the auditor’s report. 37 (b) All records of the organization other than the 38 auditor’s report, management letter, and any supplemental data 39 requested by the Board of Governors, the university board of 40 trustees, the Auditor General, and the Office of Program Policy 41 Analysis and Government Accountability shall be confidential and 42 exempt from
the provisions ofs. 119.07(1). 43 (c) Any portion of a meeting of the board of directors of 44 the organization, or of the executive committee or other 45 committees of such board, at which any proposal seeking research 46 funding from the organization or a plan or program for either 47 initiating or supporting research is discussed is exempt from s. 48 286.011 and s. 24(b), Art. I of the State Constitution. This 49 paragraph is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in 50 accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 51 2019, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment 52 by the Legislature. 53 Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public 54 necessity that any portion of a meeting of the board of 55 directors of a direct-support organization established under s. 56 1004.28, Florida Statutes, or of the executive committee or 57 other committees of such board, at which any proposal seeking 58 research funding from the organization or a plan or program for 59 either initiating or supporting research is discussed should be 60 held exempt from s. 286.011, Florida Statutes, and s. 24(b), 61 Article I of the State Constitution. The resources raised by 62 direct-support organizations are frequently used to initiate, 63 develop, and fund plans and programs for research that routinely 64 contain sensitive proprietary information, including university 65 connected research projects, which provide valuable 66 opportunities for faculty and students and may lead to future 67 commercial applications. This activity requires the direct 68 support organization to develop research strategies and evaluate 69 proposals for research grants that routinely contain sensitive 70 or proprietary information, including specific research 71 approaches and targets of investigation, the disclosure of which 72 could injure those conducting the research. Maintaining the 73 confidentiality of research strategies, plans, and proposals is 74 a hallmark of a responsible funding process, is practiced by the 75 National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of 76 Health, and allows for candid exchanges among reviewers. The 77 state has recognized these realities by expressly making most of 78 the records of direct-support organizations confidential and 79 exempt from the state’s public records requirements, including 80 proposals seeking research funding. Failure to close meetings in 81 which these activities are discussed would significantly 82 undermine the confidentiality of the strategies, plans, and 83 proposals themselves. Without the exemption from public meeting 84 requirements, the release during a public meeting of a proposal 85 seeking research funding from the direct-support organization or 86 a plan or program for either initiating or supporting research 87 would defeat the purpose of the public records exemption. It is 88 therefore the finding of the Legislature that the exemption from 89 public meeting requirements is a public necessity. 90 Section 3. This act shall take effect October 1, 2014.