Blind state agency spending raises scrutiny
Looking for a lesson in how government outsourcing is working in Florida?
Try this: Organizations that win business with the little-known state Division of Blind Services can bill taxpayers $58 an hour for travel time to meet with a blind person. The same organizations can charge taxpayers $2,000 or more to place one phone call.
If the deal sounds good for the groups that win the no-bid state contracts, it’s because it is.
Why? Because the private third-party vendors largely dictate the terms and receive little oversight, former Division of Blind Services employees say.
The state agency with a $52 million budget has largely privatized its support programs as a way to save money and better serve a group of 11,000 Floridians in need, state officials say.
But the results are mixed, at best.
Employee complaints about the Division of Blind Services have spawned at least three government investigations and four whistleblower lawsuits, all alleging waste on some scale.
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