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Gov. Rick Scott urges CareerSource directors to consider 'disciplinary and administrative action'

 
Gov. Rick Scott called on the boards of directors at CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay to call emergency meetings to deal with allegations of inflated job numbers at the bay area job centers. [TIMES  I SCOTT KEELER]
Gov. Rick Scott called on the boards of directors at CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay to call emergency meetings to deal with allegations of inflated job numbers at the bay area job centers. [TIMES I SCOTT KEELER]
Published Jan. 26, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott is calling for the board of directors at the bay area's two regional job centers to schedule emergency meetings to deal with allegations that the agencies inflated the number of job placements reported to state officials.

"I urge you to convene an emergency meeting to take this item up immediately and consider appropriate disciplinary and administrative action," the governor wrote in a letter late Friday.

"Each Board of Directors, which is appointed by the Hillsborough and Pinellas Boards of County Commissioners, should also conduct a comprehensive review of all leadership at CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas to ensure transparency and accountability."

Scott's letter comes after the Tampa Bay Times asked the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity last week about whether CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County improperly boosted their job placement numbers by claiming credit for people they hadn't assisted.

The DEO then expanded its investigation to include Florida's other 22 CareerSource boards. The agency said it plans to review policies at all of them and to put safeguards in place if necessary.

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In 2013, he rebranded Florida's 24 "workforce" agencies as CareerSource centers after spending scandals rocked agencies in Orlando and Tampa.

Scott, whose top priority during his eight years in office has been creating jobs, is now worried that Floridans are not being served by at least two of the career centers.

"Every Floridian who seeks assistance at CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas deserves to know that each employee is totally focused on getting them a job," the letter said.

Pinellas County commissioner Janet Long said she supports convening an emergency meeting.

"Something needs to take place," Long said. "Obviously, something is amok over there."

The Times found that the two local career centers, led by president and CEO Edward Peachey, asked employers across the bay area to provide information on all of their new hires, including ones that did not use any CareerSource services. The two local agencies asked for information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, job titles, salary and start dates. Some people who CareerSource has listed as having helped find jobs have told the Times that the agency had nothing to do with them finding work.

The two agencies received a total of $32 million in federal dollars in 2016, records show.

Federal and state lawmakers have called on Congress and the Florida House of Representatives to investigate whether the two regional workforce centers inflated the number of people they helped find jobs. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and state Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, called for the investigations Tuesday to make sure no wrongdoing occurred at the agencies, which use tax dollars to train job seekers and match others to employers.

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran launch an investigation and immediately demanded records from both career centers.

Contact Mark Puente at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2996. Follow @MarkPuente