TALLAHASSEE, FL — Local Representative Dwight Dudley (D-St. Petersburg) is making waves in Tallahassee with claims that sound all too familiar.
The State Department of Revenue (DOR) slated to launch the website called "One-stop Business Portal" more than a year ago and has yet to make any headway.
In a press release issued March 18, 2014, Dudley claims the site was initially approved by the legislature in 2012 and approximately $2 million of taxpayer dollars have been spent, but the DOR has nothing to give taxpayers.
"$3.7 million was allocated for the project, but now the DOR is estimating that it will need between $7 and $9 million to finish the site, and it is unlikely that it will ever be completed," Dudley writes in a letter to Governor Rick Scott.
E-Government Solutions, the primary contractor for the website, was replaced in October after missing deadlines. The company could not be reached by phone late Tuesday afternoon.
Although the contractor for the DOR website is not the same as the contractor that designed the new CONNECT website for the Department of Economic Opportunity -- which caused problems for thousands of Floridians who were seeking unemployment benefits after it too failed to meet deadlines -- Floridians are still losing $2 million spent by E-Government Solutions, who is not following through on their end of the contract.
"When the 'One-stop Business Portal' was approved in 2012, promises were made of a website that would do everything but put the kids to bed and wash the dishes," Dudley stated. "Now, millions of taxpayer dollars later, we are left with nothing. Worse yet, the state of Florida does not even own the rights to what was created."
Dudley is now calling for an investigation into the website's failure to launch.
As part of the contract with E-Government Solutions, the state is entitled to liquidated damages, one percent of the total contract for the first missed deadline, five percent for the second, and 10 percent for the third.
Dudley sent a letter to Governor Scott urging to collect those damages:
"I am calling upon the Legislature to investigate this situation. If the state is entitled to liquidated damages from the vendors who failed to fulfill their contractual duties, then we need to collect. As elected officials, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure that their hard-earned money is not frivolously wasted. I hope that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join me in this request. Because, at the end of the day, this isn't a red issue or a blue issue; it's a green issue that affects the pocketbooks of all Floridians."
Dudley represents Florida House District 68 in the state legislature, covering portions of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Feather Sound and Lealman.
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