Past track record on Florida’s crippled unemployment system
should have disqualified company from new agency bid
Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) on Wednesday called on the DeSantis Administration to reject a contract worth up to $110 million reportedly awarded to Deloitte Consulting by the governor’s Agency for Health Care Administration.
She also urged that the DeSantis Administration take a closer look at whether political connections helped smooth the way for Deloitte to emerge as the winning bid for the contract. Deloitte is the company that received $77 million to build Florida’s CONNECT unemployment compensation system which has failed unemployed Floridians miserably throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Awarding this company another multi-million dollar contract is yet another attack on the vulnerable and the poor,” said Leader Gibson. “In what world do you reward a company that sold a product described by the governor himself as a ‘jalopy’ designed to fail, with even more taxpayer dollars? It’s misguided at best and callous disregard for the people of Florida at its worst. The contract needs to be immediately rescinded.”
The news comes as the state of Florida continues to grapple with a backlog of over a million of unemployment claims and piecemeal payments through CONNECT, the crippled unemployment processing system Deloitte designed that has repeatedly failed since its launch in 2013. Since early March, as the pandemic forced the shutdown of businesses across the state, out-of-work Floridians have been at the mercy of the broken CONNECT system, waiting for months on end for payments that often did not fully or partially materialize. The 2013 contract is currently under investigation by the governor’s inspector general.
On Tuesday, news broke that Deloitte beat out four other companies vying for a contract to manage Florida Medicaid data, despite its poor past performances. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the lobbyist for Deloitte, Jennifer Ungru, did not comment on the controversy. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/fl-ne-ahca-data-contract-20200805-gjn23tl6wjdp3bvwku5gjdliqu-story.html
Ungru’s engagement on Deloitte’s behalf raises several troubling questions, Leader Gibson noted, in particular her past roles as AHCA Chief of Staff overseeing the Medicaid program. Ungru is also a former deputy chief of staff to former governor, now US Senator Rick Scott, the architect of the failed CONNECT system Deloitte crafted while Scott was governor. https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2015/09/ahca-chief-of-staff-heading-to-jones-walker-026086
“The people of Florida have suffered enough at the hands of this company,” said Leader Gibson. “They have a right to know just how transparent the award of this contract to Deloitte was, whether political ties greased the wheels for the winning bid, and will their need for healthcare be sacrificed because of it. We cannot risk the cost of failure again.”