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Jimmy Patronis: Florida’s financial software 30 years overdue for upgrade

Florida’s CFO wants the state to upgrade, saying it’s overdue.

What devices in your household used on a day-to-day basis rely on software programmed in the 1980s?

The government for the state of Florida for more than 30 years has depended on the Florida Accounting and Information Resource, or FLAIR, to manage all of the state’s financial accounts and resources.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Wednesday told the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee his top priority this year remains to get the state off the archaic software.

Instead, he wants everyone on Florida Planning, Accounting, and Ledger Management, or PALM, new custom software designed to address the government’s modern needs.

“The state budget has grown billions of dollars in the last decade,” Patronis said.

But it’s not just a matter of scale.

Patronis said over the past year, staffers in the Department of Financial Services had to rig a way to transfer funds in the system for Managed Medicaid Services. That’s a duty programmers of FLAIR never envisioned.

The massive software upgrade has been discussed for years, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Patronis’ predecessor, moved that ball forward a good deal. Now Patronis wants to finish the job.

He also noted that as Florida’s Fire Marshal, he will devote much of his energy this year to emergency preparedness for storms. A Bay County native who previously represented the region in the Florida House, recovery from Hurricane Michael serves as a personal priority.

He noted Michael led to $4.8 billion in insurance claims, but the claim process for many individuals remains long and complicated. Worse, many individuals must go through the process at a time of duress.

As Patronis noted, many must keep their heads together to deal with complicated financial procedures “knowing they may never see their wedding photos again.”

On a brighter note, Patronis said his office will continue working to connect residents with unclaimed property held by the state.

In April last year, he said his department returned some $39 million back to residents, many of whom had no idea such treasurer waited. He also shared the story of a Florida resident who received a $100,000 payout from a late godmother that he did not know was coming.

“We’re reuniting people with their assets,” he said.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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