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Sticker shock: Hundreds of thousands of big, backlogged SunPass invoices are soon to hit Florida drivers’ mailboxes.

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FDOT to break from troubled SunPass contractor

Divorce will take years; meanwhile, tolling problems continue to fester.

Florida will pull the plug early on its contract with troubled SunPass vendor, Conduent, but it will take several years for the state to find a replacement and transfer all toll operations to a new contractor.

The news was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday, on Day 405 of the SunPass Saga, a disastrous technological and customer service meltdown that started as a simple six-day disturbance. But Conduent failed in its attempt to successfully centralize billing and account maintenance for the Florida Turnpike, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, and Miami-Dade Expressway Authority.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his new FDOT Secretary, Kevin Thibault, promised accountability measures that former Gov. Rick Scott never delivered with Conduent and associated contractors, but actions have been limited since DeSantis took over for Scott in January.

DeSantis increased the total fines on Conduent to $8.3 million, but that represented just 2% of the company’s total contract for the job, which continued to increase, even during periods of turmoil, all the way to $358 million.

Now, it seems, Conduent won’t see all of that money. According to state records, the company has collected $98 million so far, but is likely to continue to collect over the next few years FDOT prepares to find a successor.

Problems related to Conduent and FDOT negligence are far from over 405 days after the system was first taken offline for the upgrade; frustrated customers still flood social media with complaints, while FDOT insiders report numerous problems behind-the-scenes as well.

The problems have been compounded by the state’s attempt to downplay and cover-up the severity of its issues.

FDOT officials have refused to turn over public records related to the system’s performance requested four months ago. They have failed to turn over records related to customer service and procurement problems from more than four weeks ago. And three-month-old questions regarding how much the state has lost in the mess went unanswered.

Meanwhile, Florida Politics has exposed how the state quietly increased Conduent’s contract in the last yearit likely broke the law in how it paid off a losing bidder on the SunPass contractit issued zero discipline for executives and contractors hired to ensure Conduent did its joba former FDOT executive chose to ignore a federal mandate that requires all toll transponders to work in all states, and FDOT public information officers intentionally withheld requested information from the public.

Prior to this year, WTSP reported how FDOT and Gov. Scott’s office tried to cover up the issues, how close Scott and DeSantis were to Conduent’s founder as well as its top lobbyist, how the state made a rare multi-million-dollar payoff to a losing bidder following a controversial procurement, and how the state breached drivers’ personal data without ever telling them.

Spokespersons for both DeSantis’ office and FDOT both said they would be available for comment Wednesday morning, but neither has responded as of 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Written By

Noah Pransky is a multiple award-winning investigative reporter, most recently with the CBS affiliate in Tampa. He’s uncovered major stories such as uncovering backroom deals in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium and other political investigations. Pransky also ran a blog called Shadow of the Stadium, giving readers a deep dive into the details of potential financial deals and other happenings involving the Tampa Bay- area sports business.

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