Florida DOT won’t renew contract for SunPass contractor Conduent
July 15, 2019
More than one year after a SunPass contractor caused widespread problems with tens of millions of transactions, the Florida Department of Transportation has confirmed that it will not renew the contract.
A FDOT spokesperson recently confirmed to Land Line that it will not renew the contract with Conduent State and Local Solutions, the contractor behind the Centralized Customer Service System that wreaked havoc on toll customer accounts last summer.
The announcement that the state DOT would not renew the contract comes just days after a report in the Tampa BayTimes that claims SunPass problems have persisted at Florida’s airports, resulting in backups and customer overbillings.
According to FDOT, the contract was signed in November 2015 for seven years with a renewal option. Since the state is choosing not to renew, the contract will end in 2023. A new contract will be managed through the department’s regular procurement process.
Centralized Customer Service System malfunction
FDOT announced last July that it was withholding payments to SunPass contractor Conduent State and Local Solutions until all of the problems with its Centralized Customer Service System are fixed. On June 28, 2018, about 90 million transactions were unprocessed.
Then-FDOT Secretary Mike Dew sent a letter to Dave Amoriell, president of Florham Park, N.J.-based Conduent, the contractor hired to implement the customer service system in an agreement signed in November 2015. Dew requested that Conduent provide adequate assurances within 10 days of the letter that the problems will be fixed.
Conduent provided assurances to FDOT in a July 10 letter. It was not enough. In a July 16 letter, FDOT informed Conduent that its assurances were not deemed adequate under a contract provision.
According to FDOT’s letter, Conduent must demonstrate “the consistent ability to timely and accurately process current transactions, eliminate the backlog, and provide a full financial reconciliation for each day’s activity that the department can rely upon to transfer revenues to participating and external agencies.”
FDOT announced via a June 10 news release that Conduent was fined another $3.7 million, bringing the total fines against the company to $8.3 million. The release states the fines were handed down for penalties for operational and performance deficiencies.
Conduent’s contract requires FDOT to pay the company for monthly operations. However, if any performance issues arise, the contract allows FDOT to penalize Conduent a maximum of 25% on monthly payments. That maximum fine has been imposed on all monthly payments since June 2018.
Shortly after FDOT’s announcement, a pair of U.S. Senators urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the contractor providing electronic tolling solutions in multiple states for problems involving the company’s administration and maintenance of electronic tolling system.
On July 30, 2018, Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., sent a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, requesting the agency take action against Conduent for violating the Federal Trade Commission Act. The act prohibits unfair practices that cause substantial harm to consumers that cannot be reasonably avoided.
In the letter, the senators claim that Conduent has financially harmed the driving public with their contracts that allow it to administer and maintain electronic tolling systems with several state departments of transportation. Conduent is accused of billing consumers with wrong toll charges, late fees and penalties.
Motorists in California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire and Texas have experienced problems with Conduent’s customer service and administration of toll systems, the letter states.
Last August, at least one state lawmaker wanted former FDOT Sec. Mike Dew out.
Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, sent a letter to then-Gov. Rick Scott requesting the removal of Dew. Jacobs’ letter to the governor came after three previous letters to Dew went unanswered.
According to Jacobs’ letter, the Broward County lawmaker sent Dew a letter on July 17 with “a long series of questions and request for information” regarding the SunPass contract with Conduent. Jacobs sent two follow-up letters on July 24 and Aug. 1. Three weeks after the original letter to Dew, Jacobs has yet to receive a response.
“Your hand-picked leader to oversee our state’s transportation department is willfully acting in subordination of these requests,” Jacobs wrote in the letter to Scott. “The disrespect this secretary has shown is beyond reproach.”
Since then, both the governor and the FDOT secretary have been replaced. DeSantis won the governorship during last year’s midterm election, replacing term-limited Rick Scott. Shortly after, Mike Dew sent in his resignation letter, announcing he was joining DeSantis’s transition team.