Florida Senate - 2011 SB 1970 By Senator Thrasher 8-02099B-11 20111970__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public records; amending s. 11.51, 3 F.S.; creating an exemption from public-records 4 requirements for work papers held by the Office of 5 Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability 6 which relate to an authorized project or a research 7 product; providing for retroactive application; 8 providing a statement of public necessity; providing a 9 contingent effective date. 10 11 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 12 13 Section 1. Subsection (7) is added to section 11.51, 14 Florida Statutes, to read: 15 11.51 Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government 16 Accountability.— 17 (7) Work papers held by the Office of Program Policy 18 Analysis and Government Accountability which relate to an 19 authorized project or a research product are exempt from s. 20 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. The exemption applies 21 to work papers held by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and 22 Government Accountability before, on, or after the effective 23 date of the exemption. 24 Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public 25 necessity that certain work papers held by the Office of Program 26 Policy Analysis and Government Accountability be made exempt 27 from s. 24(a), Article I of the State Constitution. The 28 Legislature created the Office of Program Policy Analysis and 29 Government Accountability (OPPAGA) in 1994 to provide to the 30 Legislature and its members an independent resource for 31 evaluative research and objective analyses to promote 32 governmental accountability and the efficient and effective use 33 of public resources. In order for OPPAGA to accomplish its 34 mission, it is necessary that individuals and businesses share 35 information with analysts without concerns of competitive 36 disadvantage, disclosure, or reprisals. Private-sector business 37 entities have legitimate concerns that information provided to 38 assist the Legislature in directing policy initiatives has 39 protection from those in the marketplace who could gain 40 financially from the ability to access information collected by 41 OPPAGA. In addition, supervisors and others often need to know 42 the information given by their employees as part of an OPPAGA 43 project for the Legislature. If such information were available 44 as a public record, fewer people would be willing to provide 45 information needed by the Legislature to evaluate ongoing 46 programs. Also, during the project process, much information is 47 collected that must be validated before it is relied upon by the 48 office and some information is not validated. Without a public 49 records exemption, any person could inspect and copy the record 50 containing the unverified information and risk placing on the 51 public record unproven allegations that could harm, embarrass, 52 humiliate, or cause serious personal or commercial consequences 53 to the individual or business as a result of their discussions 54 with OPPAGA. Providing a public-records exemption for OPPAGA 55 work papers will facilitate the ability of OPPAGA to acquire 56 important project information for the Legislature and protect 57 the public from inappropriate disclosure of proprietary and 58 confidential information and from allegations that may not be 59 proven with further investigation. An exemption of limited 60 duration would not be sufficient to protect the previously 61 identified interests. Thus, the Legislature finds that it is a 62 public necessity to make exempt from public-records requirements 63 work papers held by OPPAGA which relate to an authorized project 64 or to a research product. 65 Section 3. This act shall take effect on the same date that 66 Senate Bill 1204 or similar legislation takes effect, if such 67 legislation is adopted in the same legislative session, or an 68 extension thereof, and becomes law.