Monday, June 18, 2018
Opinion

State contracts need closer scrutiny

There's nothing partisan about upholding Florida's tradition of sunshine and accountability for how the state is spending billions of Floridians' hard-earned tax dollars. In fact, it is often when Florida's lawmakers come together in a bipartisan way that real reform has been accomplished when it comes to the state's contracting. That's what I found when I was Florida's chief financial officer, and why I'm pleased that CFO Jeff Atwater is continuing the good work of seeking to reform Florida's contracting process.

Specifically, I commend Florida's current chief financial officer for his recent push on contracting reform legislation that would require pre-audits of Florida's contracts, ensuring that an independent department has the ability to vet contracts before they are executed to catch poorly negotiated or badly written contracts.

As a business leader in Florida for nearly 30 years, I know that — in the business world — a company should never negotiate and sign a contract above a certain threshold without some type of financial approval or pre-audit. The business of the state deserves the same consideration, which is why I urge Florida policymakers to pass this important legislation.

As the CFO of the state, I was proud to work in a bipartisan manner with Republican Sen. J.D. Alexander to pass contracting reform legislation in 2010 that provided greater accountability and transparency in state contracting. This law included reforms such as requiring that state contracts specify clear statements of work; mandating contract managers attend accountability training; ordering an analysis to ensure no-bid contracts were reflective of fair market value; and increasing the use of electronic payments to save the state money.

At the Department of Financial Services, we took similar steps before passing this contracting reform bill, and mandated additional pre-procurement reviews for contracts of $250,000 or more.

But I also found as CFO that sometimes there were clear abuses or waste of Florida's tax dollars, and Florida's Department of Financial Services did not always have the legal authority to deny payment because the contracts were vaguely written or poorly negotiated. From this previous experience, I know a state law requiring pre-audits makes sense.

That is why I join with CFO Atwater in strongly urging policymakers in the Legislature to pass a bill that will require pre-audits of our state's contracts. I urge lawmakers in Tallahassee to champion more accountability and transparency during this session.

Alex Sink served as Florida's chief financial officer from 2007-2011. She was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010. She wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.

Comments
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18