May 22, 2016 Tavares, FL Another example of Florida, the Huckster State
Lax procurement rules were used to avoid competitive bidding for a speechwriter used by the head of Florida's economic development agency, Enterprise Florida. Today's article by the Orlando Sentinel describes once again, how government agency leaders bypass common cost control procedures.
Gov. Rick Scott is the CHAIR of this group, but allowed lax rules so his President, Bill Johnson, steered two contracts worth $158,000 to a favored speechwriter.
As a former internal audit manager, I find this example of government leaders ignoring common procurement rules to be disturbing and unethical.
"The way Johnson issued Musto's contracts may also have circumvented Enterprise Florida policy that requires all contracts over $100,000 to be approved by its board of directors. Enterprise Florida Vice Chairman Alan Becker said he would need to see Musto's contracts before he could assess whether they violated any rules."
"The agency's policy also requires that all contracts for professional services over $25,000 must also undergo a competitive bid process, according to an Enterprise Florida memo.
However, a clause in Enterprise Florida policy allows bypassing the competitive bids rule if the scope of work is for artistic services, academic program reviews, lectures, financial auditing, legal services and health consultation, a manual states." To me that is a license for cronyism.
Florida needs better oversight and transparency on independent agencies like Enterprise Florida.
Government managers or officials should not be allowed to bypass conventional procurement rules like requiring rfp's and public hearings for any expense over $25,000. At the very least, competitive bidding should take place and the manager can select from the best three candidates selected by a procurement committee or manager. And, that includes guidelines to prevent requesters from skating around the rules by splitting bids into chunks just under the limit like four purchases of $24,000 from the same vendor.