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DJJ secretary asks governor to clarify EBA contract; agency wants it bid out

Caught once in the crossfire between the Senate president and outspoken legislators over whether or not to seek bids for a $9.4 million contract, the Secretary of Department of Juvenile Justice now wants clarification on what to do with another $6 million for the same project.

At the behest of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, legislators gave the department the extra money this year as part of its eight-year-old effort to divert hardened juvenile delinquents from expensive residential treatment programs under the Redirections program. The lobbyist for the company that has the contract is Haridopolos' friend Frank Tsamoutales.

The $9.4 million contract expires in October 2013 and, despite that, several legislators wanted it put up for bid since the same company, Evidence Based Associates, had held the no-bid deal since 2004. See more here on that.

Meanwhile, the $6 million, which was appropriated for FY 2012-13, was added as a lump sum. Now the agency is asking: did the Legislature intend for the money to be put up for bid or given to EBA?  

Tsamoutales told the Herald/Times this week: there was “no intention on the Legislature’s part” to put the contract out for a bid and “the governor’s office went along” because “the program has saved taxpayers millions over the course of this contract.” He said the Legislature’s reason for adding the extra $6 million was “expanding the contract would expand the savings.”

Walters is not so sure and is now seeking advice. Download Request_Letter_of_Intent

"It is the intent of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to competitively procure this additional $6 million appropriated by the Legislature, rather than add it to an existing contract,'' she wrote in a letter Tuesday to the governor’s budget director, Jerry McDaniels, on Tuesday. 

"DJJ has determined that there is no authority in the existing contract to expand services, and given the fact that proviso does not specifically identify a provider, our position is that we are required by Chapter 287.057 to competitively procure these services."

To eliminate any ambiguity, she said, the department  “seeks to determine the legislative intent regarding procurement of these additional services.”

The governor's office has  yet to respond.