While a circuit judge in Leon County in Florida still has to decide whether a potential class-action lawsuit against the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity and Deloitte Consulting over the shoddy and problematic unemployment benefits system D-town built and installed will continue, Florida senators are pushing forward a bill that would penalize companies (cough, Deloitte, cough) that grossly underperform on state contracts.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Senate Bill 788, sponsored by Sen. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa), would prevent companies from bidding on new state contracts if they fail to meet the terms of their previous contracts with the state.
Cruz—a harsh critic of Deloitte Consulting who said last summer that Deloitte “shouldn’t be awarded another dollar until they fix the mess that they have made” with the state’s unemployment benefits system—said during a Senate committee meeting on March 3 that “I’m not picking on any company in particular.”
C’mon, Janet, we all know that a certain consulting arm of a giant public accounting firm with a big green dot is the reason why this bill is on the table. You know, the one that recently got awarded a $135 million contract to modernize the state’s Medicaid data.
The Times reported:
The decision generated headlines and outrage — even from DeSantis himself — because the unemployment website Deloitte created for the state in 2013 failed immediately at the start of the pandemic last year. The Times/Herald found that the Agency for Health Care Administration, which awarded the contract, didn’t delve into Deloitte’s work on the online unemployment system, known as CONNECT, before giving out the award.
Deloitte was paid about $40 million for its work on CONNECT, even though the system has been faulty since its launch in 2013.
“With all of this in consideration, how can we allow any company, in this case it was Deloitte, to receive another $135 million contract?” Cruz said Wednesday.
Under her bill, state agencies would be required to report companies that don’t fulfill the terms and conditions of their contracts to the Department of Management Services, which would then decide whether to place those companies on the state’s suspended vendor list. Currently, that list applies to companies that have ongoing contracts with the state, not companies whose past work proves faulty. Deloitte’s contract to build CONNECT ended in 2015.
Once on the list, companies would have to wait a year before they could ask the Department of Management Services or an administrative law judge to be removed.
But there’s still a long way to go before this bill becomes law. It would still need to pass several other committees and be approved by the state’s House and Senate before making it to the governor’s desk for approval.
Judge to weigh lawsuit on Florida’s unemployment problems [News Service of Florida]
After unemployment fiasco, Florida senators move to punish vendors [Tampa Bay Times]