Gov. Rick Scott's office revives scrutiny of state contracts
Gov. Rick Scott's office has resumed its review of state agency contracts of $1 million after a months-long break, according to an internal memo obtained by the Times/Herald.
Scott started the process with an executive order (see section 6) on his first day in office. That part expired after 90 days.
In a Sept. 15 memo, Scott's Office of Policy And Budget director instructed executive agencies to again submit contracts exceeding $1 million. But he didn't leave it at those contracts. The agencies must also flag Requests for Proposals (known as RFPs), Invitations to Negotiate (ITNs) and other competitive solicitations.
"We're hoping to put another set of eyes on what agencies are doing," said Jerry McDaniel, Office of Policy and Budget director, in an interview.
McDaniel sent the memo upon the direction of Scott's leadership team, he said. He sent it just a few weeks after Scott fired Corrections Secretary Ed Buss, whose brief tenure was marred by his approval of two contracts that were not reviewed by Scott's office. McDaniel said he was not aware of a "direct purpose" for the renewed process for contracts and bids.
Buss OK-ed a health care privatization contract worth up to $400 million without letting the Governor's Office review it. The contract stipulated that health care vendors must be accredited by the American Correctional Association, the director of which was the husband of a consultant Buss hired to prepare the contract. Buss also signed a deal with MSNBC's "Lockup" series that allowed the TV show to tape six episodes in Santa Rosa Correctional Institution. Buss did not ask Scott's attorneys to review the contract.
Policy experts in his office will not scrutinize every single contract as they did in the initial 90-day review, when they looked at "anything and everything," McDaniel said.
McDaniel provided several exemptions for routine contracts handled by the Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Environmental Protection, water management districts and Department of Transportation.
The point is to look over agency contracts that involve agency discretion, he said. Here's the plan: Policy experts in McDaniel's office will receive updates from the agencies in informal meetings either every week or every other week. Staffers will notify McDaniel if they have concerns, and then he will notify Scott's leadership team.
"I haven't had any of those so far," he said.
The Times/Herald received the memo through a public records request. Download it below.