main menu bread crumb page title feature menus content footer
My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

This week, I had the honor of speaking to the First Amendment Foundation, which serves to protect and advance the public’s constitutional right to open government. It is vital to the success of our state, whether economic or social success, that we not just champion a system of openness and transparency. But rather, we must practice and govern with those two principles at the forefront, guiding our mission and actions.An original FLAIR input terminal.

As new tools become available through technology to promote greater transparency and accountability, we must be prepared to embrace them. A system almost as old as the state’s open government laws is standing in the way of greater transparency. The state’s accounting system, called FLAIR, came online in 1981, more than 30 years ago. The antiquated system prevents us from providing the public with dynamic information on how state agencies expend funds or how costs for services vary between programs or state agencies. It also is difficult to impossible to hire staff who can update or program FLAIR because the accounting system is written in an outdated language. In the technology world, this would be equivalent to trying to find staff who speak Latin.

I am in a position to do something about FLAIR, and I am willing to take on the challenge on behalf of the taxpayers of this state in an effort to move toward a system that can provide the public greater transparency. FLAIR has been obsolete for years, and the time has come to free ourselves from the restrictions of this outdated, outmoded system.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Legislative Agenda

S.B. 1150 by Senators Benacquisto and Brandes

Senate Bill 1150, State Contracting, requires agreements or contracts to include a pre-execution review period by the Department of Financial Services based on a monetary threshold and various risk criteria in order to correct errors before dollars are deployed. DFS will have the authority to post all contract documents as images online for the public to view. Grant agreements will include financial consequences for a vendor’s nonperformance and grant managers and negotiators will have a new required training program.

  • Passed unanimously out of the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee

S.B. 422 by Senator Benacquisto and CS/H.B. 301 by Representative Mayfield

Senate Bill 422, The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act, requires that an individual or group insurance policy or contract or a health maintenance contract that provides coverage for cancer treatment medications provide coverage for orally administered cancer treatment medications on a basis no less favorable than that required by the policy or contract for intravenously administered or injected cancer treatment medications. The bill also prohibits insurers, health maintenance organizations, and certain other entities from engaging in specified actions to avoid compliance with this act.

  • Passed unanimously out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
  • Passed unanimously out of the House Health Innovation Committee

S.B. 936 by Senator Lee and H.B. 913 by Representative Bileca

Senate Bill 936 and House Bill 913 revise the Holocaust Victims Insurance Act to expand the scope of assistance that is provided by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to Holocaust victims and their heirs. Under current law, DFS has authority to assist in identifying and obtaining potential and actual insurance claims. This bill broadens DFS authority to include providing assistance to recover other financial claims, assets and property.

  • Passed unanimously out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
  • Passed unanimously out of the House Insurance and Banking Committee

News of Interest

Tampa Tribune: Atwater’s better idea

Tallahassee Democrat: State must address outdated systems

Tampa Bay Times: Reboot Law on Open Records

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida population booming again

New York Times: Pushing back retirement, and not always for money

Florida Times-Union: JIA named to top five in North American airports in service

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Construction spurs gains in employment

Reuters: Small business confidence, capital spending plans rise

Palm Beach Post: TurboCombustor Technology expands in Stuart

Insurance Consumer Forums To Be Held

Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott, in partnership with the Division of Consumer Services, is hosting a series of forums to meet face-to-face with Florida policyholders to assess the homeowners insurance claim handling process.Insurance Consumer Forums

The Insurance Consumer Advocate’s office and the Division of Consumer Services work with consumers daily to find solutions to insurance claim issues, which are often reported through Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s toll-free Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236). Forums will be used to push for improvements to the insurance claim handling process.

For more information please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers , call 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236)or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/ICA.

Forums scheduled in March:

MARCH 21 ORLANDO (6:30 – 8:30 p.m.)
Orlando Regional Realtor® Association
1330 Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810

MARCH 26 Tampa (6:30 – 8:30 p.m.)
Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, Inc.
W. Kennedy Blvd. (Auditorium) Tampa, FL 33609

MARCH 27  JACKSONVILLE (6:30 – 8:30 p.m.)
Northeast Florida Association of Realtors
7801 Deercreek Club Road, Jacksonville, FL 32256

CFO’s Top Dim-Witted Fraud Criminals

In recognition of Fraud Prevention Month and to continue to raise awareness of the impact of insurance fraud on Florida’s consumers, Chief Financial Division of Insurance Fraud BadgeOfficer Jeff Atwater will be releasing the top dim-witted fraud criminals arrested by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud throughout the month of March. Although committing fraud is not a laughing matter, these cases serve as a reminder to those dishonest Floridians that if you try to cheat the system for your own personal gain, you will be caught and justice will be served.

In April 2012, Joshua Perry, 36, of Fort Myers, exited the restroom area at Rosa Parks Transportation Center, and he alleged he slipped on water on the floor and injured his ankle. After being taken by ambulance to the hospital, he fraudulently filled out incident reports for the accident. Video surveillance obtained of the transportation center clearly shows Perry exiting the restroom with a slight limp, lying down on the floor with ease and splashing water from the fountain onto the floor to top off his fake slip and fall.

On May 4, 2012, a Notice of Intent was filed via certified mail to both the Lee County Board of County Commissioners and the Florida Department of Financial Services. A sworn statement by a risk management specialist for Lee County confirmed that the video surveillance had been reviewed and the incident appeared staged.

Joshua Perry was arrested on May 17, 2012 for filing a false insurance claim and pled guilty to insurance fraud, a third degree felony, on Sept. 19, 2012. He was sentenced to 120 days in county jail and three years probation.

Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

Florida's Bottom Line on Financial Health

Florida Economy 2012

Read the latest issue of Florida's Bottom Line, a quarterly publication about Florida's financial health, to get expert commentary on 2012 and a look at the year ahead.

In between issues visit the companion website to Florida's Bottom Line to stay updated as new statistics emerge. The website features news and data on jobs and the economy, as well as useful resources for small businesses. Also take a look at our infographic on Florida's Economy 2012 - a visual display of the financial stats for the past year.