Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 122154
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File Number: 122154 File Type: Resolution Status: Before the Board
Version: 0 Reference: Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: WEBSITE SALARIES RE: COUNTY EMPLOYEES Introduced: 10/24/2012
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 12/4/2012
Agenda Date: 12/4/2012 Agenda Item Number: 11A5
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION REQUESTING AND DIRECTING THE MAYOR TO REMOVE FROM THE COUNTY’S WEBSITE ANY AND ALL POSTINGS AND/OR LINKS RELATED TO THE SALARY OF COUNTY EMPLOYEES
Indexes: EMPLOYEES
  SALARY
Sponsors: Barbara J. Jordan, Prime Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 12/4/2012 11A5 Adopted as amended F
REPORT: Commissioner Jordan said she was unaware that an issue existed with the Mayor’s office regarding the foregoing proposed resolution until reading a recent newspaper article. She noted there was no Committee discussion indicating that employees’ salaries would be listed online in Commissioner Souto’s proposal. Commissioner Jordan said that staff offered to remove salary information after the vote to move forward with the item; therefore, she had no indication that this was an issue with the Mayor’s office. Commissioner Jordan said that she understood the rationale for open government but expressed concern regarding the placement of employees’ salaries on the County’s website. She noted it was her understanding that as public employees, paid with public dollars, certain expectation to privacy was surrendered; however, having this information placed on the Internet could potentially place employees at greater risk of identity theft. Commissioner Jordan said that income tax fraud had become one of the most prominent forms of fraud in Miami-Dade County. She noted with the County’s website providing an employee’s name, position title and exact salary – and in some cases, address – it was very revealing and could be very easy for people who did not have good intentions to obtain employee’s information. Commissioner Jordan said that although employees’ social security numbers were not listed, other information could be used to obtain the social security number of an employee. Commissioner Jordan said that pretexting and social engineering were instances where thieves used old fashioned techniques of persuasion to obtain specific information from a victim’s colleague, family member, human resources representative, the victim’s employment or from a third party company. She explained that other methods of obtaining personal information existed such as phishing – the use of disguised emails to trick victims into disclosing personal information; and dumpster-diving, where thieves targeted victims’ garbage in search of bank statements, medical records, bills, and other information that could provide a social security number. Commissioner Jordan said that botnets were also used by hackers to troll the Internet in search of personal information that could be used for identity theft. Commissioner Jordan noted she requested staff and the Commission Auditor’s office to explore whether any other communities provided this type of information. She noted employee information was provided by Los Angeles County; Cook County, Illinois; and San Diego. Commissioner Jordan said that Harris County, Texas; Mericopa, Arizona; Kings, New York; Queens, New York; Broward County and Palm Beach County did not provide employees’ salaries on their website. She noted the intent was to identify employees’ salaries by department and suggested that this could be accomplished by listing the job title and the salary without attaching the employee name. Commissioner Jordan read an email she received from a County employee expressing concern regarding this proposed resolution. She noted the public had a right to information; however, the salary and start date was sufficient without an employee name. Commissioner Jordan offered an amendment to the foregoing proposed resolution which was read into the record. Assistant County Attorney Juliette Antoine read the following amendments into the record, pursuant to Commissioner Jordan’s request: 1) to delete the language “…to remove any postings and/or link on the County’s website relating to the salary of the County’s employees” and to replace it with “…to remove the employee’s name from any postings and/or link on the County’s website relating to the salary of the County’s employees and to replace such name with the employee’s title and/or position or start date” and 2) to delete from the same paragraph the sentence “Any request for information relating to an employee’s salary shall be provided only to those individuals or entities which have made a valid public records request of the County.” Commissioner Jordan expressed the need to protect employees’ privacy and the unintended consequences of having their personal information being readily accessible. Commissioner Barreiro pointed out that public meetings and records needed to adhere to high standards pursuant to the Florida Sunshine Law. He noted support for public information being placed on the County website in order to be fully accessible to the public; however, he cautioned that employees needed to take precautionary measures with their personal data such as social security numbers. Commissioner Barreiro said he did not support the foregoing proposed resolution. Commissioner Zapata said that he was in favor of disclosing employees’ salaries for transparency reasons; however, he noted security and identity theft concerns existed. Mayor Gimenez indicated that he was open to placing employees’ names and salaries on the County website inasmuch as the County was a public entity; liberal Sunshine Laws existed; and County government should be open and transparent with easy access to public information. He noted it might be appropriate to include employees’ start dates in order to fully explain their salary level. Commissioner Zapata stated that he did not support the proposed resolution, noting the Board needed to obtain the public’s trust in order to govern. Commissioner Heyman said she supported increased transparency; however, individual employee privacy issues needed to be respected. She noted the State Constitution contained a privacy clause despite the Sunshine Law provisions. Commissioner Heyman indicated that combined salary and benefit data was appropriate; however, the disclosure of individual employees’ salaries was not. She noted examples of identity theft and stolen databases within several areas of County government where employee data was already being used to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. Commissioner Heyman said that the identities of anyone wanting this public information should be disclosed in their records request. She commented that the amendment being proffered by Commissioner Jordan helped to conceal employees’ identities, noting transparency did not need to intrude on an individual’s personal privacy. Commissioner Sosa pointed out that salary information was already available on County employees and elected officials through a public records request, noting social security data was excluded from this information. She said that she did not support the foregoing proposed resolution, noting anyone could obtain a significant amount of information on County employees by performing a google search; however, she emphasized the importance of protecting employee social security numbers. Commissioner Diaz observed that information about elected officials should be transparent but County employees should not be held to the same level of scrutiny. He advised that although employees’ social security numbers were not contained in the public records, their names should not be associated with salary information. Commissioner Diaz pointed out that the State of Florida had exempted itself from the Sunshine Law requirements but required other government entities to abide by those regulations, noting he did not believe that Miami-Dade County needed to provide more information than others. He suggested that the amount of employee information disclosed and the protection of employee information be reviewed. Vice Chairwoman Edmonson announced that it was past 6:00 p.m. and that a motion was needed to extend the meeting. It was then moved by Commissioner Diaz to continue the meeting beyond 6:00 p.m. This motion was seconded by Vice Chairwoman Edmonson, and upon being put to a vote, passed by a vote of 10-0 (Commissioners Bell, Bovo and Souto were absent). Commissioner Monestime expressed concern about security issues in an environment where so much personal information was already available to the general public. He stressed the importance of keeping social security numbers and date of births private to prevent hackers from stealing employees’ identities from the County database. Mayor Gimenez clarified that the State of Florida placed employees’ names, salary, status/classification, job title, date of hire, and hourly rate for each of their 106,000 employees on their website, noting this was more information than the County disclosed. Commissioner Jordan advised that there were over 100,000 visits to the County website during the past week from people seeking this information. She pointed out that specific details relating to employees’ names and their salaries could still be requested through a public records request; however, the website should only contain information relating to job titles, start dates and salaries, without the disclosure of names. Commissioner Jordan said that it should not be easy for others to hurt County employees. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Commission proceeded to vote on the foregoing proposed resolution, as amended. Upon being put to a vote, the motion that this resolution be adopted as amended failed.

Internal Mgmt. & Fiscal Responsibility Committee 11/14/2012 2D Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Jess McCarty read the foregoing proposed resolution into the record. Commissioner Jordan explained that pubic employee salaries were public information; however, the number of years of service, qualifications, duties and responsibilities that contributed to an employee’s salary was not provided. She also noted instances where employees had been taken to court because salary information was placed on-line. Commissioner Jordan said that salary and other information could be made available through a public records request at any time. Commissioner Diaz noted salary information was placed on-line for transparency purposes. He said it was anyone’s right to request public records and when doing so, they should receive all applicable information. Commissioner Diaz noted he was opposed to using personal data for marketing purposes and lawsuits. He said that although elected officials needed to be transparent, every employee did not. Commissioner Edmonson noted legislation was enacted in January 2012 to place public records on-line; however, it did not include salaries. She further noted additional legislation was enacted in April 2012 requiring that printed reports were made available in the regional libraries. Commissioner Edmonson said someone made a decision to place information on-line rather than to print reports. She noted her support for the foregoing proposed resolution and proceeded to question how salary information was placed on-line when not approved by the County Commission. Mr. Angel Petisco, Director, Information Technology Department, clarified that the original legislation requiring that a check register for County transactions with vendors be placed on-line was sponsored by Commissioner Barreiro. He said an additional item sponsored by Commissioner Souto requested that County employees’ salaries be placed at all libraries. Mr. Petisco said that Mayor Gimenez submitted a report dated August 2012 indicating that County employees’ salaries were available to be placed on-line. He noted that approximately 195,000 people have accessed salary data since posted on-line. Commissioner Bovo clarified that the County Commission did not direct Administration to place employee salary information on-line. Commissioner Jordan clarified that Commissioner Souto’s item indicated that the information was to be maintained only at regional libraries, not every library. Commissioner Bovo questioned whether any other information was provided other than the employees name and salary that could affect an employee’s privacy. Mr. Petisco responded that the employees name, gross salary and adjusted gross salary were provided in the on-line information. He clarified that the employees name was included in the on-line information and not the position title. Commissioner Bovo said that the public had the right to this information; that he supported including only the position title and salary; and that Administration should respond as to their rationale for placing this information, including employee names, on-line. He said it was the County Commission’s obligation to protect County employees from cyber crime and identity theft, while at the same time making in easier for people to access information. Commissioner Bovo noted he supported the foregoing proposed resolution; however, the public should continue to be informed. Chairwoman Bell noted that she supported the proposed resolution for further discussion by the County Commission. She said a delicate balance was needed between the public’s right to know and the employees’ right for privacy. She suggested including the position, title, years of experience and salary. Commissioner Jordan noted that the public had the right to receive information through public records requests. She said that even though providing information was for a good intention in terms of open government, people could still take this information and use it for unintended purposes. Commissioner Jordan noted that employee salary information was available through a public records request without subjecting employees to the possibility of others imposing upon their privacy. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Committee proceeded to vote on this proposed resolution as corrected. Commissioner Jordan asked that this proposed resolution be considered at the November 20, 2012 Board of County Commissioners meeting. Chairwoman Bell asked Deputy Mayor Ed Marquez to prepare an appropriate memorandum asking Board of County Commissioners’ Chairman Joe A. Martinez to waive the Board’s rules and procedures to allow this resolution to be heard at the November 20, 2012 meeting.

County Attorney 10/24/2012 Referred Internal Mgmt. & Fiscal Responsibility Committee 11/14/2012

County Attorney 10/24/2012 Assigned Juliette Antoine 10/29/2012

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION REQUESTING AND DIRECTING THE MAYOR TO REMOVE FROM THE COUNTY’S WEBSITE ANY AND ALL POSTINGS AND/OR LINKS RELATED TO THE SALARY OF COUNTY EMPLOYEES

BODY



WHEREAS, this Board embraces the ideals of government-in-the-sunshine and transparency in government administration and operations; and
WHEREAS, the Constitution and the laws of Florida make most of the records of the County government public records that are and should be open for the inspection and copying of members of the public; and
WHEREAS, the County has recently begun to post the salary information of its employees on the County’s Website; and
WHEREAS, the ease with which the salary information of County employees may be accessed could potentially pose a safety risk to such employees and make them a target for potential wrongdoing; and
WHEREAS, the salary information, absent additional information about the individual’s work experience and educational background fails to provide a clear picture of why such a salary is merited and is therefore misleading to the general public; and
WHEREAS, prior to the posting of salary information on the County’s website, any individual who wished to know an employee’s salary would file a public records request and obtain such information; and

WHEREAS, in light of the fact that there is an alternative for accessing employee salary information, the County must counterbalance the need for transparency with the safety of its employees and the need to refrain from providing information which, when taken out of context, would mislead the public,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that the Mayor is requested and directed to remove any postings and/or link on the County’s website relating to the salary of the County’s employees. Any request for information relating to an employee’s salary shall be provided only to those individuals or entities which have made a valid public records request of the County.



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