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August 1, 2005

Florida update

Jeb Bush has clearly found the best candidate to run the department that regulates about one million Florida businesses and professionals:

Simone Marstiller will be the new secretary for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, replacing Diane Carr. Carr is returning to the law firm where she worked when appointed in 2003.
Before being appointed as chief information officer in May 2004, Marstiller served as a deputy chief of staff for Bush. She has also worked as a lawyer for the Department of Management Services and the Agency for Health Care Administration.
“Simone has proven her commitment to public service and the people of this state and I’m grateful she’s agreed to turn her talents to the full time leadership of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation,” Bush said.

Floridians may be surprised at the Bush Baby’s fulsome praise, given Marstiller’s work experience. First this, from InformationWeek

The CIO of Florida is out of a job. Florida’s State Technology Office lost funding in the budget that took effect last week, resulting in the elimination of 26 positions, including that of CIO Simone Marstiller, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. About 156 high-tech workers will be transferred to the state’s Department of Management Services. Florida’s Technology Office, created in 2000 by Gov. Jeb Bush, was responsible for more than $1 billion in purchases but was plagued with scandal, including questions about bid-letting and outsourcing, according to the paper. Ex-CIO Marstiller, a former Bush senior aide, said she will take some time off.

A little more background from the July 29 2004 St. Petersburg Times:

A scathing audit says the State Technology Office may have improperly awarded big contracts to vendors who used politically connected lobbyists, but officials said Wednesday the agency has since changed the way it does business.
The 20-page audit said the Technology Office, created by Gov. Jeb Bush nearly six years ago, failed to provide even basic justification for many of the deals.
The audit showed more than three dozen companies had some interest in doing work with the agency, but the contracts appeared to be designed to give an advantage to two - Accenture and BearingPoint - and included clauses that gave them opportunities for price increases and renegotiations.
The audit said “the competitive process may have been circumvented” in awarding contracts to the two companies, which are responsible for a number of state operations, including the state’s Web site. Both have longtime Bush friends and political supporters lobbying on their behalf, although those relationships were not mentioned in the audit.
… The technology office’s head, Simone Marstiller, said Wednesday the renegotiations have begun and the companies are cooperating. She denied that the contracts were awarded based on their lobbyists. “No vendor needs a lobbyist to do business with the state of Florida,” said Marstiller, who has headed the agency since March. “That does not indicate how we’re doing business today.”

Good to hear, given that Marstiller is now responsible for licensing one out of every 16 Floridians in professions ranging from accountancy to cosmetology.

Posted by Stephen at 5:37 PM in Politics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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