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Scott hires cost-cutter to head state procurement agency

Friday, January 21st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott brought on fellow health care executive Jack Miles to head the Department of Management Services, an agency the governor has blasted for wasting taxpayer money.

Miles oversaw contract management and purchasing at CIGNA, one of the nation’s biggest health insurers. Scott founded and was formerly CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain and owns Solantic, a chain of health care centers.

Miles slashed spending at CIGNA by $80 million in less than two years, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office announcing the appointment.

“State government has to learn to live within its means, and Jack Miles will make sure that our state spends taxpayer dollars more wisely as we tighten the belt across the entire government,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott will put Miles to work reviewing contracts to see where the state can “reduce costs and increase efficiency,” the release reads.

Scott’s office is now analyzing every state agency contract worth more than $1 million. He said earlier this week he’s looking at saving money on state purchases as a way to plug a $3.62 billion budget deficit.

Under pressure, GOP lawmakers drop two bills from special session

Monday, November 15th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon dropped two suddenly contentious bills from their veto override list after objections from Gov.-elect Rick Scott and GOP donors.

One of the measures (HB 5611) would have taken power away from the governor by removing the Department of Management Services from the executive branch and putting the agency under the governor and Cabinet.

Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the bill this summer saying it was an encroachment of executive powers. Lawmakers gave the bill received near-unanimous consent this spring.

Cannon and Haridopolos said as late as last week that it was not a power-grab by the legislature, but Haridopolos said Scott asked him this weekend to drop the override.

The other measure would have imposed new restrictions on doctors’ repackaging of prescriptions and would have lowered workers’ comp costs for the state and private companies.

But Automated Healthcare Solutions, a Miramar company headed by two South Florida doctors, supported the veto and spent $1 million on political committees headed by Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Cannon, R-Orlando, this summer.

Associated Industries of Florida, which supported the override and is also a major contributor to GOP campaigns, was one of the many business groups opposed to the legislation.

UPDATE: State owns $14 million building after all

Monday, December 7th, 2009 by Dara Kam

An error in St. Lucie County Property Appraiser Jeff Furst’s database caused confusion over whether the state ever took title to a $14 million building it owns in Ft. Pierce.

Furst told a Senate committee this morning that his records showed the state had never transferred the title from the City of Ft. Pierce, which gave the land to the state in 1988.

The state actually took ownership of the property in 1989, according to the Department of Management Services.

Senate budget chief ordered DMS officials in January to create a database of all state-owned properties – more than 17,000 buildings – so lawmakers could consolidate workers and possibly save money on expensive leases.

DMS has not been able to do that yet and wants to hire a private vendor to help create the database.

Furst told Alexander’s Ways and Means Committee that the task should be simple: all of the state’s 67 property appraisers submit a list of all the properties – including those owned by the state – and their values to the Department of Revenue each year.

Furst’s records should be updated tonight to show that the state has taken ownership of the building, DMS spokeswoman Linda McDonald said.

“This is a good example of why this is a big important job because different databases need to be kept up to date,” she said. “We want you and your readers to understand that we have always known where of our buildings are. That’s never been the issue. The issue has been getting this complete data set that provides valuation for those properties.”

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