Statewide Electronic Filing System Proposal Summary November 27, 2013

1. Background on current campaign finance reporting systems. • For filers with the Division of Elections: o Section 106.0705, Florida Statutes, mandates the use of the Division’s electronic filing system (EFS) and provides the criteria for the EFS. Section 106.0706, Florida Statutes, exempts the user identification and passwords from Florida’s public records law. The information entered into the system is also exempt until the report is generated and filed with the Division. For filers with county supervisors of elections and municipal clerks: o No mandated EFS exists, but s. 106.07(2)(a)2., Florida Statutes, permits the governing body of any political subdivision, by ordinance or resolution, to impose on its own officers and candidates an EFS requirement if those requirements are not in conflict with the EFS criteria in s. 106.0705, Florida Statutes. Only about one-half of Florida’s 67 counties have a mandatory electronic campaign finance reporting system and nearly all of Florida’s 410 municipalities still use a paper reporting system.

2. Proposed requirements for a mandatory statewide electronic campaign finance reporting system. The statewide EFS should be patterned after the statutory mandate for the current EFS system for filers who file with the Division of Elections; however, the Division’s current EFS does not have the technological capacity or capability to handle the increase in volume of users that would result with the addition of all county and municipal filers. The statewide EFS would need to be more robust to handle the increased number of filers and number of citizens desiring to view campaign finance records. A robust and secure mandatory statewide EFS should include not only the requirements mandated by ss. 106.0705(5) and 106.0706, Florida Statutes, but should also: • • • • • • • • • Ensure that county and municipal filing officers retain their role and responsibility as filing officers for the candidates and entities that file currently with them. Provide filing officers the ability to automatically audit campaign finance reports for completeness and timely filings. Include campaign finance filings required by ss. 106.07, 106.0703, and 106.29, Florida Statutes, and those required by s. 106.141, Florida Statutes (e.g., termination reports and office account reports). Provide for the migration of campaign finance data for the prior two years into the EFS. Provide a completely paperless registration and reporting capability. Mandate the use of email notifications. Provide for electronic referrals to the Florida Elections Commission by filing officers. Provide for direct data entry into the statewide EFS by the filer and provide an upload capability to upload data into the statewide EFS by third-party vendor software. Provide an Internet web-based search capability for the public, media, candidates, political parties, political committees, and electioneering communications organizations regarding reported campaign finance data.
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To accomplish the proposed system’s requirements, several statutory changes are necessary. The recommendations for statutory changes are contained in the enclosed, detailed proposal. 3. Means to accomplish the mandatory statewide electronic campaign finance reporting system. The potential approaches to create the statewide EFS are essentially two: (1) an in-house development of the system; or (2) a vendor-developed system. • The Division estimates the development of an in-house system would require 4748 hours and cost $534,415.80 (based upon an average application development cost per hour on a state contract of $105.35) with annual recurring costs of $145,000 (comprising $80,000 cloud processing and storage fees, plus $65,000 for an additional full-time employee). Because the Department of State’s information technology (IT) section also continually maintains and upgrades the statewide corporations database, the Florida Voter Registration System, and the Division’s own EFS, as well as serving the Division of Historical Resources, Division of Cultural Affairs, and Division of Library and Informational Services, it is unavailable to devote its full and undivided attention to the development of a statewide electronic filing system. The IT section would need a minimum of three years to develop and implement the statewide EFS. The Division issued a Request for Information (RFI) from vendors who may be interested in developing a statewide EFS. The Division received 10 responses, which are enclosed as appendices to the proposal. Because the responders did not know what the final specifications for the project would entail, the estimated cost of meeting the requirements of the proposal is unknown; however, based upon development costs, along with licensing and maintenance fees for the system, the cost could be anticipated to be well over one million dollars. (For example, the vendor-created statewide system in North Carolina cost $1 million, but the same vendor indicated that higher costs occurred in creating systems in other states – the cost is dependent upon the final requirements for the system). Additionally, without knowing the full scope and final requirements of the project, the RFI responders’ estimates to create the system ranged from three months to more than 18 months. Given the expansive scope of this project, the Division believes the realistic estimate for a commercial vendor to develop and deliver the proposed statewide EFS would be closer to 18 months. Additional time will be needed for the vendor selection process.

4. Other states. The Division conducted an informal telephonic survey of other states regarding their campaign finance filing systems. Very few states appeared to have a statewide EFS which also included offices from local jurisdictions. None involved the magnitude and scope of the large number of potential filers (e.g., candidates for state, county, multi-county, district, special district, and municipal office, political parties, affiliated party committees, political committees, electioneering communications organizations, and other individuals required to file campaign finance reports) that would exist with a Florida statewide EFS.
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