LAKELAND, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott pledged again Tuesday to hold accountable the contractor in charge of a SunPass upgrade-gone-wrong but offered few specifics how. He also rebuffed a question about possible amnesty for nearly a month's worth of backed-up toll charges that have yet to hit drivers' accounts.
INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: 10Investigates' ongoing SunPass series
"This is all done by statute," Scott said in response to a question about calls for toll amnesty, suggesting his hands may be tied.
The governor then quickly pivoted to a vote of confidence for his department of transportation: "I believe they’re right under 100 million on the backlog of the transactions, working as quickly as they can."
The comments come as the state's ongoing SunPass crisis approaches a third month with account, website, and other customer service problems still plaguing millions of Florida drivers.
10Investigates has been breaking news since mid-June on the botched Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) rollout of a new consolidated SunPass billing system, scheduled to have been completed by June 11, including how the state has tried to cover up the size of the crisis with optimistic press releases.
Since then, 10Investigates has revealed how the contractor in charge of the botched job, Conduent, was still collecting payments on other FDOT contracts and employed well-connected lobbyists as it saw its $287 million tolling contract grow to $343 million.
Florida House and Senate Democrats are planning a Wednesday morning press conference outside FDOT offices in Miami to demand the governor issue an executive order to suspend all SunPass toll collections and to appoint a select independent committee to investigate whether there was any criminal wrongdoing by FDOT in the mishandling of the SunPass upgrade.
"It's frustrating," Scott said of SunPass problems. "We’ll hold the vendor accountable...with no penalties or fines (for drivers)....but I know people are frustrating."
When asked about FDOT's continued efforts to downplay the severity of the issues, Scott told 10Investigates to get a list of questions to his office, and he will make sure they are answered.
When asked about 10Investigates' findings that Conduent was still getting paid through other state contracts despite Scott's claim to hold the company accountable, Scott replied, "but they’re not getting paid on this contract."
Earlier this month, 10Investigates revealed how a state audit cited FDOT for not putting proper financial penalties in-place in case Conduent failed to fulfill its contract duties.
Other SunPass developments exposed by 10Investigates:
- June 26 - Florida chose a contractor with a long history of problems
- June 26 - Governor Scott has few specifics on his actions
- July 3 - FDOT's claim that system is restored is far from whole story
- July 5 - State continued to award contractor more money as problems mounted and SunPass contract lacks proper financial penalties in case of failure
- July 15 - FDOT completely unable to process toll-by-plate transactions
- July 17 - Contractor still collecting payments on other FDOT contracts
- July 18 - FDOT executives have coordinated to downplay crisis and keep information from media
- July 19 - Longtime consultant abruptly resigns after 10Investigates reports on her push for transparency and state lawmaker calls on Gov. Scott to waive 130+ million tolls
If you are a Florida driver with concerns or problems related to SunPass disruptions, contact 10Investigates’ Noah Pransky confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or join the ongoing SunPass conversation on his Facebook page. And let him know who you think should be held accountable.
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