The Florida Sunshine Law Isn’t Free

The Florida Sunshine Law Isn’t Free

At their December 4th meeting, the City Commissioners will vote on extending the City’s agreement with Smarsh, Inc., the City’s vendor for archiving public records. The proposed three-year extension will cost a maximum of $320,000 per year to archive emails, text messages, and social media feeds.

The Sunshine Law requires the City of Tallahassee to retain public records and make them accessible. The City has contracted Smarsh, Inc. since 2010 to comply with public records laws.

The Smarsh software, managed by the Technology and Innovation (T&I) Department, automatically captures public records like business-related electronic communications and webpages. This creates an archive of public records that can be quickly searched.

In 2017, the City’s agreement with Smarsh expanded to include keeping records of text messages. In 2018, after updating existing public records policies, the City Commission adopted the Public Records, Records Retention, and Disposition Policy (Policy 140).

Policy 140 requires the City to archive communications like social media posts. According to section 140.D.07, all content posted to City-owned and City-sponsored social media accounts must be retained.

“Smarsh currently offers a subscription service capable of capturing emails, text messages, and social media feeds,” staff reports.

T&I aims to extend the agreement with Smarsh for three years. According to the meeting agenda, extending the agreement to include this service will cost a maximum of $320,000 annually. For a period of three years, the maximum total cost will be $960,000.

“There are sufficient funds in the following T&I operating budgets to cover this cost: 705-160101-521190 and 705-160601-521190,” staff reports.

If the Commissioners vote to extend the agreement, it will comply with Policy 140, and Smarsh will continue to archive emails, text messages, and social media posts.

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7 Responses to "The Florida Sunshine Law Isn’t Free"

  1. Avatar
    Dave   December 4, 2019 at 6:50 am

    What happens after those 3 Years are up and another Company gets the Contract because of a lower Bid? Does Smarsh transfer all that Data over to the new Company? What then happens if that new Company ends up not being able to do it for the Bid amount that they submitted or goes belly up?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      steve   December 4, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      The data HAS to be archived(by policy). If the City moves to another vendor, the existing data HAS to be moved. The cost of capturing(moving) the data would be part of any new contract.

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    Snidely Whiplash   December 4, 2019 at 9:31 am

    All-Righty then.
    We obviously will need to conduct an outside independent audit on this 10 year old contract to determine who inside or outside City government received ill gotten gain on the negotiation of and implementation process of this 2010 contract with Smarsh.
    You know I’m right.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    TONY   December 4, 2019 at 10:42 am

    “The Smarsh software, managed by the Technology and Innovation (T&I) Department, automatically captures public records like business-related electronic communications and webpages. This creates an archive of public records that can be quickly searched.” ********** WHY doesn’t the “State-County-City” own their own Server Farm for this very reason?

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    • Avatar
      steve   December 4, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      Because you would still need some type of archival mechanism(software plus hardware), and the resources(employees) to maintain, upgrade and manage the equipment. The city does have servers and equipment, but the equipment just to archive the data(many terabytes) alone would be hundreds of thousands just for the hardware and then you would need to back it up, maintain it and upgrade the hardware. Then you’d need to capture the data from email, phone system or social media site. You would also need the infrastructure (power and network) to support all the data capture, backup and retention. It’s not just as simple as standing up a server and walking away.

      Reply
  4. Avatar
    Seeking Answers   December 4, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    We’ve put in numerous public record requests to COT and can readily demonstrate that the City of Tallahassee has and continues to intentionally withholding important documents; for instance how was the $2.6M BP funds awarded to COT in ~2016 used; this $ went where, Mr. Goad? COT having the records is one thing. COT Producing them as required – even when withholding them is in violation of F.S. 119 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the real issue. How does one most efficiently address that COT illegal intentional act? The Ethics Committee……LOL?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      joe   December 5, 2019 at 9:02 am

      First Amendment Foundation?

      Reply

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