FDOT procurement meeting cancelled after FloridaPolitics.com report

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

I guess we can count the Florida Department of Transportation among our beloved readership – along with the many pols, staffers, voters and taxpayers who check in with Florida Politics every day.

Following our reportage earlier this week on a transportation contract procurement process that seems have gone a little squirrelly, FDOT announced today that it has cancelled a public meeting previously set for Wednesday on precisely that issue.

On Monday we wrote about an ITN process – “Invitation to Negotiate,” in the parlance of procurement – that left a lot to be desired in terms of transparency.

Check out the story for a refresher, but to recap: the FDOT convened a committee to rank proposals from a handful of companies looking to take on a massive project, namely, the administration of a huge swath of Florida’s highway tolls. That committee, made up of eight representatives – two from each of the four expressway authorities that oversee the toll roads in question – decisively recommended the technology company Accenture as the firm for the job.

Later on, however, a smaller and less representative FDOT panel reversed that recommendation and instead selected document management firm Xerox, for reasons unclear to us or most observers of the process.

They cited as a factor that their pick carried a supposed lower level of risk, but that didn’t quite jive with a number of recent news reports about problems with similar Xerox-helmed projects in California and Texas – plus a few others we didn’t enumerate because hey, no company is perfect and accidents do happen. (Although the phantom tickets being issued to drivers around San Francisco did seem a bridge too far, pardon the pun.)

Suffice it to say that the procurement vetting process left some key questions unanswered. That’s why, when we heard rumors the department was about to award the contract to Xerox tomorrow, we recommended that FDOT take a step back and re-examine the outstanding issues in this case.

Specifically we implored –

Whether this […] is done by way of an internal tapping of the brakes by FDOT; whether a court finds that a new ITN is in order after the fact; or whether an interested Legislature intercedes to make a corrective action, whatever form such a move would best assume, one thing is for sure amid these murky seas — all stakeholders involved, most importantly the taxpayers who will fund this work, ought to take a step back and re-examine this procurement and the process that governs it.

We’re glad they’re doing that, as are the millions of Floridian motorists who travel these highways every day.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.