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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Florida Guv Unveils FOI Bill of Rights

Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida continues to show how it's done when it comes to open government. Crist just announced two new open government initiatives that will improve Floridians’ ability to access public documents and meetings. The first initiative involves a Bill of Rights for all Floridians trying to access public records. The second initiative involves improving Internet access to state agency contact information.

Here is the Bill of Rights for FOI:

WHEREAS, an open and accessible government is the key to establishing and maintaining the people’s trust and confidence in their government and its ability to effectively serve its citizens; and
WHEREAS, the state of Florida has a long history of providing public access to the records and meetings of public entities; and
WHEREAS, Florida must continually strive to be a national leader in open government reform; and
WHEREAS, on June 19, 2007, by Executive Order 07-107, I created the Commission on Open Government to review, evaluate, and issue recommendations regarding Florida’s public records and public meetings laws; and
WHEREAS, the Commission on Open Government met on August 22-23, 2007 and received public testimony requesting the need for greater ease of access to public meetings and documents, the need to increase the respect with which our government agencies interact with our citizens, and create a culture which will build the people’s trust and confidence in their government and its ability to serve the people;
WHEREAS, streamlining and clarifying applicable laws and policies will result in making government more open, accessible, and accountable to its citizens; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHARLIE CRIST, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (1)(a) of the Florida Constitution, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order, to take immediate effect:
Section 1.
All agencies under the direction of the Governor shall adopt an Open Government Bill of Rights to guarantee that the right of access to public meetings and records is safeguarded and protected. This Bill of Rights shall be conspicuously posted on the agency’s website and at the agency’s headquarters. It shall include the following provisions:
A. A statement that the public is entitled to be treated with respect, courtesy, and professionalism.
B. A statement that a public records request does not have to be made in writing unless a specific statute requires otherwise. In that case, the statute imposing such a requirement shall be cited.
C. A statement that receipt of all public record requests shall be acknowledged promptly and in good faith as required by section 119.07(1)(b), Florida Statutes.
D. A statement that fees shall not exceed the amount authorized by section 119.07(4), Florida Statutes, unless another amount is expressly authorized by law. In that case, the statute imposing such a requirement shall be cited.
E. A statement that the public has the right to an itemized invoice of proposed fees or fees charged.
F. A statement recognizing that access to public records and meetings are rights secured under sections 119.07(1) and 286.011, Florida Statutes and Article 1, Section 24, Florida Constitution.
Section 2.
All state agencies under the direction of the Governor are directed, and all other state agencies are requested, to provide such assistance to the individuals carrying out the directions in this Executive Order as may be requested in furtherance of the objectives described.
hereunto set my hand and caused the Great
Seal of the state of Florida to be affixed, at
Tallahassee, this 15th day of November, 2007.

Charlie Crist

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