Florida Senate - 2011 CS for SB 1970 By the Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability; and Senator Thrasher 585-02316-11 20111970c1 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 (OPPAGA) be made 27 exempt from s. 24(a), Article I of the State Constitution. As 28 required by the Legislature, OPPAGA may provide independent 29 evaluative research and objective analyses to promote government 30 accountability and the efficient and effective use of public 31 resources. In order for OPPAGA to accomplish this mission, it is 32 necessary that individuals and businesses share information with 33 OPPAGA staff without concerns of competitive disadvantage, 34 disclosure, or reprisals. Private sector business entities have 35 legitimate concerns that information provided to assist the 36 Legislature in directing policy initiatives has protection from 37 those in the marketplace who could gain financially from the 38 ability to access information collected by OPPAGA. In addition, 39 supervisors and others often want to know the information given 40 by their employees as part of an OPPAGA project for the 41 Legislature. If such information were available as a public 42 record, fewer people would be willing to provide information 43 needed by the Legislature to evaluate ongoing programs. Also, 44 during the project process, much information is collected that 45 must be validated before it is relied upon by the office and 46 some information is not validated. Without a public-records 47 exemption, any person could inspect and copy the record 48 containing the unverified information and risk placing on the 49 public record unproven allegations that could harm, embarrass, 50 humiliate, or cause serious personal or commercial consequences 51 to the individual or business as a result of their discussions 52 with OPPAGA. Providing a public-records exemption for OPPAGA 53 work papers will facilitate the ability of OPPAGA to acquire 54 important project information for the Legislature and protect 55 the public from inappropriate disclosure of proprietary and 56 confidential information and from allegations that may not be 57 proven with further investigation. An exemption of limited 58 duration would not be sufficient to protect the previously 59 identified interests. Thus, the Legislature finds that it is a 60 public necessity to make exempt from public-records requirements 61 work papers held by OPPAGA which relate to an authorized project 62 or to a research product. 63 Section 3. This act shall take effect on the same date that 64 Senate Bill 1204 or similar legislation takes effect, if such 65 legislation is adopted in the same legislative session, or an 66 extension thereof, and becomes law.