Web sites are portals into state agencies

By Steve Bousquet
Published February 27, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Two new state Web sites are designed to help Floridians cut bureaucratic red tape on their own, by showing them how to obtain public records written in plain language.

The sites - the first of their kind in Florida - are a follow-up to an executive order Gov. Charlie Crist signed Jan. 3, the day after he took office. In that order, Crist established the state's Office of Open Government and he ordered agencies to develop plans to make the language of government easier to understand.

The new Office of Open Government Web site lists the name, phone number and e-mail address of the contact person at each state agency who is responsible for compliance with public records laws. People can directly e-mail government from the site, www.flgov.com/og_home. The site notes that a request for public records does not have to be made in writing. One of the site's links is to the First Amendment Foundation, which illustrates how a typical public records request might be made.

The new Plain Language Web site (www.flgov.com/pl_home) explains the effort to simplify bureaucratic language so citizens can understand what government is doing. All state agencies must have plain language plans in place by April 2.

As a candidate last year, Crist met with most of the state's newspaper editorial boards, where he heard complaints about the slow pace of state agencies processing requests for public information.