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Sink launches audit of Tallahassee 'Taj Mahal'

CFO Alex Sink's office announced Monday she is conducting an audit of the new First District Court of Appeals construction,

Citing a St. Petersburg Times report, Sink wrote a letter to the Department of Management Services saying her team "reviewed invoices and other documentation that raise questions" about the project, dubbed the 'Taj Mahal.' Read more from Lucy Morgan here and Sink's full annoucement below.

From the CFO's office:

Florida CFO Alex Sink announced today that she has directed her Bureau of Auditing to perform a comprehensive audit of the Department of Management Services’ fixed capital outlay project for the construction of the new First District Court of Appeals courthouse.

Following a St. Petersburg Times investigative piece that dubbed the project Florida’s ‘Taj Mahal,’ CFO Sink ordered a preliminary review of documentation to support payments for the project, which found cause for an audit. CFO Sink detailed plans for the audit in a letter to DMS Secretary Linda South today.

“As CFO, I have worked on behalf of Florida’s taxpayers to reform state contracting procedures to increase transparency and accountability,” said CFO Sink. “If the Legislature approved the spending of scarce state funds on palatial accommodations at a single courthouse, the people of Florida have a right to know how this situation came about and just how much it’s costing them.”

A copy of the letter follows below:

August 30, 2010
Ms. Linda South
Florida Department of Management Services
4050 Esplanade Way
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0950

Dear Secretary South:

The Department of Financial Services has reviewed invoices and other documentation that raise questions regarding the First District Court of Appeals courthouse project.  It is my intent to audit the project as soon as possible to reconcile and validate all sources and uses of project funding, including bond proceeds and other state funding, and to determine whether the project is in compliance with applicable provisions of Florida Statutes. Pursuant to Section 17.03, Florida Statutes, I have directed the Bureau of Auditing of my Division of Accounting and Auditing to perform a comprehensive audit of the Department of Management Services’ fixed capital outlay project for construction of the new First DCA courthouse.

The audit will involve our examination of all documents and financial records associated with the project, including documents relating to bond issuance and sale; appropriations records; procurement documents; contracts; change orders;  project management reports; and all invoices tendered to support payments associated with construction of the project.   In order for us to complete the audit in a timely manner, I request your office collect all relevant documents and make them available to the auditors at the inception of the audit.

The audit will be led by Mark Merry, Bureau Chief of Auditing, and will be conducted by Bill Dubose, Financial Administrator.  Mr. Merry will contact your office to schedule an entrance conference this week with your staff.  We look forward to a positive and productive working relationship with you and your staff.  Please contact Mark Merry at (850) 413-3074 or if you have questions.

Alex Sink