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Government Inc. part 2: Lack of contract oversight equals lost dollars

In the last two years, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has agreed to let the state lose $48 million.

That's the amount of taxpayer money Atwater spent to settle dozens of bad contracts and grants that he said could have been avoided had the state done a better job cutting the deals.

"We could have built two elementary schools with that money,'' said Atwater, a former Senate president whose office writes the checks.

In each case, the state concluded it was not going to get what it paid for, Atwater said. "So we said, 'This is hogwash and you know it.'" Rather than taking the company to court, the state agreed to settle the contract at a loss.

With $50 billion of the state's $70 billion spent on vendors this year, the state of Florida is one of the largest buyers of goods and services in the Southeast, but its contract management is haphazard and inconsistent.

Now, Atwater, Gov. Rick Scott and his secretary of the Department of Management Services, Craig Nichols, are inching toward some improvements that will change the system.

Atwater is asking the Legislature for "pre-audit" authority to review contracts before they are completed to make sure the state is getting its money's worth.

Nichols has published a guidebook for contract negotiators, including a set of uniform standards. His agency has increased the number of agencies using the state's online purchasing program, MyFloridaMarketPlace, to get better discounts, and DMS is working to streamline the state's patchwork of contract procedures. Story here.

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Can't take anymore

The campaign donor gravy train passengers won't be happy if the state actually enforces the terms and conditions of all its contracts with private sector vendors. Where do these Republican politicians think the generous campaign donations come from? Perhaps they believe these guys funnel all that money thru lobbyists because they are just patriotic.

Anti-Tallahassee

This is SOP for Republicans. They complain about government while they use it to pad the pockets of their friends and receive their portion of the spoils through lobbyists and their "leadership funds." Crony crapitalism practiced by the prophesizers of "free markets." Republicans have controlled Tallahassee for over a DECADE - state government is more corrupt than ever. Amendment 1 and a myriad of regulations have concentrated power in Tallahassee. The Repugnants are gaming the system for personal power/gain. STOP electing Republicans.

TallyBooBoo

Training for contract writing and management is almost non-existent in this state. Each agency has their own set of policies regarding contracts. Bad contracts are often written because lack of training and/or agency heads are too impatient to allow the normal process to take place. So a "rush job" contract is written and executed. An ITN or RFP can take up to 6 month from project inception to executed contract. There are processes in place for a reason, but they often get skipped. Then there are agencies that don't even competitely procure contract...they just award contracts to anyone they like because statutes allows them to do so for certain services.

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