Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t want Deloitte to get a $135 million contract to revamp the state’s Medicaid website, but said the controversial vendor won the bidding war.
In Orlando Friday, the Governor addressed the company winning the contract, a move under scrutiny in light of the ongoing controversy about the state of Florida’s unemployment website, a $77 million project Deloitte oversaw that failed amidst a surge in claims this spring.
DeSantis, in town for a transportation roundtable, distanced himself from the decision.
“Two things, one the bid’s being protested. Two, as Governor, if you look at the law, I’m not allowed to be involved in that anyway. There’s good reason for that,” DeSantis said.
“I’ve not been involved. I don’t like it. Obviously we’re investigating the unemployment,” DeSantis said, continuing a theme of criticizing Deloitte for delivering a system that wasn’t adequate.
“It’s one thing to have a faulty system, but $77 million that was paid, so we need to look at that.”
The Governor said it would be his “preference that they not get anything.”
“At the same time,” DeSantis added, “there’s a process, unfortunately, that has to play out. There is a protest in place and I know that the Department of Economic Opportunity submitted a negative recommendation.”
“I think what happened is they just dropped the price so much that under the current law or whatever they make those decisions, they kind of – their hands were tied.”
“I can’t go in and just void it legally, but I think most Floridians want answers on unemployment, and I think that should happen before any of this other stuff does.”
For its part, Deloitte distanced itself from failures with the state’s CONNECT website, saying the company had not been contracted to maintain or upgrade the site since shortly after its implementation.
But DeSantis hasn’t acknowledged that as a legitimate critique, focusing on the process holistically, with some questions for predecessor Gov. Rick Scott, under whose administration the contract was executed.
“Why would you have paid the $77 [million]?,” DeSantis rhetorically asked Scott in a press gaggle Thursday in Jacksonville. “It’s one thing if it’s on the cheap. That’s an enormous amount of money I think for a system that clearly was not built for the long haul.”
The Governor noted Thursday that the Inspector General is investigating the matter, an inquiry now months old.
The ongoing friction over the state’s unemployment system has forced DeSantis into a defensive posture, and for his part, Sen. Scott thinks that DeSantis needs to stop publicizing his frustrations.
On Wednesday, Scott advised DeSantis to “go solve problems” and “quit blaming others.”