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Florida Constitution Revision Commission

PUB 700169: Accountability and Oversight of Government Contractors by Steve Webb

NEW ARTICLE

Title: ACCOUNTABILITY AND OVERSIGHT OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS

 

When a Florida government body, including chartered municipalities, makes a contract with a business or individual to perform state business, that contractor will be subject to the Florida Constitution and all other applicable laws and regulations as if it was the contracting government body. In particular, this includes all rules involving transparency and the availability to the public of information involved in the work. A contractor will yield the right to exclude proprietary information from any litigation arising from the work, and will be subject to civil or criminal penalties for any illegal activity performed on behalf of the state of Florida. Contractors will also be required to return any monies received for activities deemed unconstitutional in the Florida courts.

 

The intent here is to prevent the government from evading the various public checks and balances on its actions by the use of contractors. Some examples of this since the last CRC would include cities' increased reliance on contractors to police red-light cameras, the use of a private firm leading up to the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections to use names of Texas misdemeanor convictions to purge felons from the Florida voting roles, and the use of a contractor to contrive a legislature-directed set of Congressional districts in 2011 and submit them as citizen-generated using a hacked email account. In the last case, it would remove that contractor's ability to evade discovery in the lawsuit that overturned some of those districts but left many of them intact because the law appeared to protect the contractor's proprietary information doing the public's business.