First Amendment expert named to Florida legislative panel on transparency

From The Florida Senate:  Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) today announced the appointment of Barbara A. Petersen, President of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation, to a legislative panel that will evaluate and recommend how to provide better public access to state financial records and contracts.

Called the User Experience Task Force, the group is tasked by law with developing and recommending a design for consolidating existing state-managed websites that provide public access to state operational and fiscal information into a single website.  The task force will begin work immediately and make recommendations to the Legislature prior to the 2014 Legislative Session.  The Senate President has one appointment to the four member panel.  
Photo of Barbara Petersen“Barbara Petersen is Florida's respected guardian of open records, open meetings and open government," said President Gaetz. “Her leadership of the First Amendment Foundation gives credibility and reliability to this important work.  Her expertise in advising public officials, the media, courts and citizens about access to records will lead to more transparency and user-friendliness through a consolidation of many complex and duplicative websites.”   
Barbara Petersen is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Florida State University College of Law. She has served as President of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation since 1995. Ms. Petersen previously served as staff attorney for the Joint Committee on Information Technology Resources of the Florida Legislature, where she worked exclusively on public records legislation and issues.

A passionate advocate of the public's right to oversee its government, Petersen is the author of numerous reports and articles on open government issues. She currently sits on the board of the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), having served as its president and treasurer. Petersen also served as chair of Florida's Commission on Open Government Reform.
Ms. Petersen, along with other members of the task force, will serve without pay.


The First Amendment Foundation is a member of NFOIC. –eds.