In Oldsmar, a Florida manufacturing industry leader calls foul on federal waste
Dick Peck heads the manufacturing business QTM Inc. in Oldsmar and also chairs Florida's Manufacturing Extension Partnership in Celebration. Photo: Douglas R. Clifford, Tampa Bay Times
Wake up and good morning. The Orlando Sentinel sheds some light on the frayed relations between a federal arm of the U.S. Commerce Department and a Florida organization chaired by Oldsmar businessman Dick Peck that promotes manufacturing in the Sunshine State.
It seems another federal government conference that's been held in Orlando for years now faces congressional scrutiny for allegedly extravagant spending. The annual event is called the "Manufacturing Innovation" conference and is put on by the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a U.S. Commerce affiliate. The conference is supposed to provide training to employees of a national network of MEP centers that provide assistance to small and mid-sized manufacturers.
The planned 2013 conference's already been canceled amid a swirl of audits and saber rattling by members of Congress, though the National Institute says it was canned for budget reasons, according to the Sentinel story.
Where does Oldsmar's Dick Peck fit in all this? The NIST and Florida's Manufacturing Extension Partnership chaired by Peck are battling over federal operating funds and claims of mismanagement. Florida's MEP says it is owed $1.4 million from the feds and has to lay off six people without those funds.
The Sentinel story quotes Peck: "This is not an isolated experience in Florida but rather and MEP system-wide strategy for retribution for centers or individuals who complained about NIST's fraud waste and abuse." Peck's statement appears in a letter he wrote to a U.S. Commerce under secretary in charge of the institute.
The Tampa Bay Times wrote about Peck back in 2011 in this story. We'll see where this controversy leads just as Florida attempts to regain some momentum in manufacturing jobs.
Read the Orlando Sentinel story here.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times