Integrity Florida, an independent governance research organization based in Tallahassee, exemplifies what it means to work for common good. Their most recent research report released Wednesday, based on the results of the State Integrity Investigation, an evaluation of effectiveness of anti-corruption mechanisms in all U.S. states, is a good example of how to use the vast pool of data to propose and promote “mini-reforms” at the state level.
The proposed “mini-reforms” could have great impact on Florida’s political life and public scene. One of the most important suggestions relates to the State Ethics Commission’s right to independently initiate investigations. Florida’s ethics commission currently does not have this right, which significantly undermines its investigative flexibility. If granted, many alleged violations of state ethics regulations would be probed without the need for an official request.
Integrity Florida also calls for the establishment of a “report corruption hotline,” the expansion of the ethics code to include tracking public money, disclosure of major transactions for top officials (all cabinet officials, state legislators, state agency heads and local elected officials), and creating a system, where all financial disclosure forms can be filed electronically and made available publicly online in a searchable, updatable and downloadable format.
Dan Krassner, Executive Director of Integrity Florida, points out that there is a grassroots demand for ethics reform in Florida that he expects will continue, especially through this year’s election. In an interview given to iWatch News, he said, “Voters are making it known — in more ways than they have in the past — that corruption is a problem we can’t stand for any longer.”
These reforms, if implemented, could significantly change Florida’s public landscape. And this is something that’s possible in every state. Challenges vary from state to state, but each state can extract valuable conclusions from SII to build “mini-reforms.” Since the investigation was published in March, we’re glad to say we’ve seen and continue to see state legislators and good governance groups using the data to start reforms.
Global Integrity has engaged with several actors across the country to help in the data analysis process and to facilitate the exchange of ideas through dialogue between governments and good governance groups. Reforms are not easy, but they also are not impossible. Florida still has a long way to go to adopt and implement new regulations, but we salute these efforts as an indispensible first step in the right direction.
— Marko Tomicic
— Image Credit: Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program