After the Agency for Health Care Administration awarded Deloitte Consulting with a controversial contract, state spending watchdogs at Florida TaxWatch released a new set of recommendations for contract oversight.
Last month, AHCA gave the consulting group a $135-million contract to update the state’s Medicaid database. Deloitte got the nod despite Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting an investigation into the state’s procurement process after the state unemployment system’s failures this spring.
Deloitte oversaw CONNECT’s creation after winning a leading role on a $77-million contract from then-Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration.
Florida cannot afford to repeat past mistakes when negotiating future contracts, TaxWatch members wrote.
“The decision by AHCA to award a $135-million contract to a company that is actively being investigated by the Governor’s Chief Inspector General for its failure to perform on a different state contract is hard to believe and shows the dire need for state procurement reform,” said TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro.
Because of the bidding process, DeSantis says his office was unable to intervene to stop the contract. Deloitte’s relatively low offer outweighed the Department of Economic Opportunity’s negative recommendation, he added.
An independent committee gave Deloitte the highest score during the procurement process for the Medicare warehouse project, the consulting firm said.
“During the negotiations we refined our bid, which underscores the additional investment we are willing to make at this extraordinary time,” Deloitte said in a statement. “We are confident the process will confirm that Deloitte’s bid does indeed offer the best value to Florida taxpayers.”
Poor planning, poor oversight and management, and poor contracting have plagued the state in the past, none as fresh in Floridians’ minds as the CONNECT deal. TaxWatch pointed to PeopleFirst, which went live in 2003 but took until 2005 to get a dedicated management team.
“Our state government must be accountable to Florida taxpayers and show that it can consistently make smart business decisions that protect their interests,” Calabro said.
The group’s recommendations include naming the AHCA Secretary, currently Mary Mayhew, as the project’s executive sponsor to increase accountability and creating a project management team in the agency. AHCA should also develop a multi-year financial project to cover the project’s entire development, TaxWatch said.
Florida TaxWatch also joined the Associated Industries of Florida in calling for a complete overhaul of the state’s procurement system. The system should focus on transparency, open competition and making good use of taxpayer dollars.
“The recommendations offered by Florida TaxWatch today focus on protecting our precious tax dollars with stronger contract management and increased oversight in this contract and those to come and we urge AHCA to quickly implement these recommendations,” Calabro said.