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citizens

Citizens are encouraged to contact the Florida Center for Government Accountability with concerns and issues regarding government accountability and transparency. When FLCGA receives a “tip” and it’s determined that there’s merit in pursuing the issue, FLCGA makes public record requests to obtain all relevant public records. The FLCGA then engages a freelance journalist to write about what the public records revealed and works with other media outlets for distributing the story once complete. Content sharing is strongly encouraged.

 

Journalists

Journalists are encouraged to contact the Florida Center for Government Accountability to bring relevant issues regarding government accountability and transparency to our attention. The FLCGA conducts citizen-driven investigations into local government corruption and violations of Florida’s open government laws. Traditional news outlets, particularly at the local level, face pressures never before seen and are increasingly unable to meet the informational need of the public due to limited and dwindling resources. The FLCGA provides guidance and assistance to all journalists seeking access to government information in Florida.

FAQ

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What does the Florida Center for Government Accountability do?

Civic engagement is critical to a healthy and robust democratic society. Citizens rely on a variety of news sources for information essential to their ability to hold government accountable for its actions. Traditional news outlets, particularly at the local level, face pressures never before seen and are increasingly unable to meet the informational needs of the public due to limited and dwindling resources.

The FLCGA helps citizens better understand what is happening in their local communities, the effect that big money has on local politics and hopefully gives citizens the necessary tools to engage with their government more effectively.

What is the Florida Center for Government Accountability's Focus?

The goal of FLCGA is to both facilitate and accelerate local on-the-ground reporting with critically-needed tools, expertise and knowledge using aggressive public records investigation and well-sourced quality reporting.

To enhance civic engagement in the democratic process, FLCGA has two co-equal initiatives: (1) public access to government information, and (2) well-sourced investigative reporting.

What are Florida’s Open Government Laws?

Florida has some of the oldest and most progressive laws in the nation and is one of only a few states with a constitutional right of access to the records and meetings of Florida government.

Our public records law, first enacted in 1909, allows access to all non-exempt government records. An agency must produce requested records within a “reasonable” period of time and may charge a fee for copies of public records. Only the Legislature can create an exemption to the right of access, and if a government agency denies a request to inspect or copy its records, it must provide a specific statutory citation authorizing its denial. Unintentional violations of the public records law are non-criminal infractions; intentional violations are first-degree misdemeanors.

Florida’s open meetings law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law, has three simple requirements: (1) reasonable notice must be given; (2) meetings must be open to the public; and (3) minutes must be taken. The law applies to all public collegial bodies – boards, commissions, councils, committee, etc., and requires the public be given a reasonable opportunity to speak on any issue on which the collegial body will take action. A meeting may be closed to the public only if there is a specific statutory exemption allowing the closure. An unintentional violation of the Sunshine Law is a non-criminal infraction; intentional violations are second-degree misdemeanors.

Why does the Florida Center for Government Accountability exist?

We need organizations like FLCGA to cover a rapidly growing and burgeoning state – there are 67 counties in Florida and 411 cities, towns and villages. While Florida has the most progressive open government laws in the nation, citizen and media demands for public records too frequently result in questionable agency imposed rules and restrictions and unlawful delays and denials. Also, the illusion of accessibility and openness created by the internet and social media more often results in misinformation, rather than accurate and well-researched facts. Citizens need access to reliable, fact-based, non-partisan information in order to hold government accountable.

 

Is the Florida Center for Accountability a news reporting service?

No, that’s what the organizations like the Associated Press (AP) or Reuters do. Instead, FLCGA conducts citizen-driven investigations into local government corruption and violations of open government laws using the greatest tool imaginable – Florida’s public records law. While we focus our efforts primarily on local government, many of the issues FLCGA takes on have a statewide impact.

The FLCGA pursues all potential avenues necessary for maximizing information sharing with the public.

As a citizen, how does the Florida Center for Government Accountability work for me?

The FLCGA assists citizens in navigating Florida’s open government law. We help draft requests for records, analyze agency responses to those requests and, if necessary, litigate violations of law on behalf of citizens.

Additionally, citizens are encouraged to contact FLCGA with concerns and issues regarding government accountability and transparency. When FLCGA receives a “tip” and it’s determined that there’s merit in pursuing the issue, FLCGA files targeted public record requests to obtain all relevant public records. The FLCGA then engages a freelance journalist to write about what the public records revealed and works with other media outlets for distributing the story once complete. Content sharing is strongly encouraged.

Does the Florida Center for Government Accountability charge a fee for services or content?

No. All services are free of charge – there’s no membership fee and no paywall. In fact, FLCGA strongly encourages content sharing.

The FLCGA is funded through a combination of direct public support and grants. Donations in any amount to FLCGA allow us to focus on our mission and are greatly appreciated. Financial contributions to FLCGA do not impact our decision to investigate or publish a story.

Does the Florida Center for Government Accountability rely solely on citizen tips?

No. There are numerous avenues to pursue and ensure government accountability. The FLCGA has strong connections with investigative journalists throughout Florida, and we encourage journalists to bring relevant issues to our attention. If the issue is worth pursuing, we engage the journalist to write the story on behalf of FLCGA, offering assistance and guidance on acquiring the necessary public records, reviewing responses, and, if necessary, litigating violations of law.

The FLCGA provides guidance and assistance to any journalist seeking access to government information in Florida.

How does the Florida Center for Government Accountability inform the public of its work?

The FLCGA website has a News section where we publish our stories that can downloaded and shared at no cost. Subscribers to our website are informed of all stories we post. Subscriptions are free.

Is the Florida Center for Government Accountability a for-profit corporation?

The FLCGA is a non-partisan nonprofit that focuses its efforts primarily on local government, providing support and assistance for citizens and investigative journalists working to hold government accountable. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free (800-345-7352) within the State.  Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the State. Registration #CH64626.