As the months have rolled on, the phone calls to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) have been endless and issues with CONNECT have literally kept people across the state up at night.
“The system still to this day is unreliable, it’s illogical, it’s difficult to navigate and we paid a fortune,” said State Senator Janet Cruz, who represents District 18.
Governor Ron DeSantis has finally admitted to WFOR-TV in Miami the flawed structure of the system was done on purpose.
“I think the goal for whoever designed it, was like lets put as many pointless roadblocks along the way so people say, 'The hell with it, I’m not going to do that.'” he said in an interview Tuesday.
And yet, despite an open investigation into the company behind the failed unemployment system, and the fact many people are still waiting for DEO to pay them the rest of their state and federal payments — Deloitte is being awarded by the state paying them a large sum of money to modernize the Medicaid system.
“Why in the world would we give them additional tax dollars after they made a disaster out of what the governor calls a jalopy of a system,” said Cruz.
In 2015, Dan Raulerson, a Republican state representative at the time, sounded the alarm about CONNECT’s flaws which he says we’re mostly ignored.
“This has turned into a nightmare,” he said to committee members in 2015.
Procurement documents showed the new job would help put all Medicaid data in one place. It cites the “current data architecture is causing many data challenges.”
On Monday — Deloitte beat out four other companies who were vying for the job.
“In may, in fact, be a good decision but it doesn’t look good on the surface, it smells all to hell,” said Raulerson. “I do think they need to be held to the fire, in terms of substantiating why they made this decision.”
History seems to be repeating itself. ABC Action News investigated Deloitte in May and found that in 2013 -- just as Deloitte was being awarded a $77 million contract for developing CONNECT -- it was also being sued by the state for malpractice and failing to perform its auditing obligations of insurance companies after a string of hurricanes.
“They shouldn’t be awarded another dollar until they fix the mess that they have made,” Sen. Cruz said.
It’s why Sen. Cruz is demanding the Agency for Health Care (ACA) administration put a freeze on the contract.
The governor's office released the following statements:
“The competitive procurement process was created in statute by the Florida Legislature to follow strict legal guidelines intended to, among other things, shield the process from political interference, collusion, or favoritism. Unfortunately, with the ethical distance we must maintain from these contracting decisions, when a decision is made that implicates past performance issues or an ongoing, yet unfinished investigation, people naturally demand action. However, we must uphold the statutory integrity of the procurement process.”
"Because of the need to keep politics out of the procurement process the Governor does not have the authority to intervene once the process starts. In addition, for the same reason, he cannot unilaterally revoke the award of a contract. Whether the other parties in the bidding process or the Secretary have options is for them to explore. But the Governor believes keeping politics out of procurement and taxpayer dollars go to the best value, not the best lobbyist. Having said that, he is not pleased that this action was taken. As a background point I believe this contract was put to bid before COVID but I am checking"