FLORIDA CFO ALEX SINK'S CONSUMER eVIEWS NEWSLETTER
Volume 7 Number 51 December 17, 2010
Our recent editions of e-Views have reflected on the accomplishments and important work of our team in the Department of Financial Services. While much good work has been done over the last four years, there is always more to do. It is important that Florida’s leaders continue to identify reforms that can and should be continued across administrations.
This edition of eViews addresses just a few key issues that I believe must be considered by the Cabinet and Legislature and are based on reforms and initiatives started during my service as your CFO.
State of Florida
A Modernized Accounting and Information System
Achieving the most efficient and effective management of the state’s business continues to be hampered by the lack of a state-of-the-art and coordinated accounting and information management system across state government.
- Florida needs a modernized, 21st-century accounting system that will allow the state to improve reporting and provide timely accurate accounting and management of state resources.
- Development and design of a new system must not be undertaken until a well-defined governance system is established and approved by the Cabinet and the Legislature.
- A new governance system proposal was recommended by a diverse task force across state government during my administration that can serve as the framework for moving forward on this important process.
More Experienced Governance of Florida’s Pension Fund
In March of 2008, I set forth a Ten Point Plan to bring more accountability,
oversight, and transparency to the way our State Board of Administration was governed. The SBA Reform Bill that was signed into law this year includes many of the important recommendations, but more work is left to do to ensure the best governance structure for Florida’s $120 billion pension fund.
- The current Board of Trustees’ structure of three elected officials who are not required to have any financial or investment experience should be completely reformed, based on the findings from other states in the report done on this issue by the current Cabinet offices.
- Florida’s leaders should take steps to change the make-up and structure of the Board, such as including members with investment and financial experience and expertise and potentially members who are beneficiaries of the Florida Retirement System.
Reducing Florida’s Risk Exposure
Florida’s elected officials must continue to address the burden of the state’s catastrophic risk and work to establish a long-term, strategic vision for addressing hurricane risk in our state. While our state has been lucky to have not had a hurricane in the last five years, we are still in a precarious situation.
- Florida’s property owners cannot afford the significant increases to their insurance rates from the assessments that would be necessary if Florida faces a catastrophic storm – a better balance has to be found, that reduces risk while avoiding “sticker shock”-type rate increases.
- An important component of reducing our hurricane risk is continuing to encourage Floridians to harden their homes through programs and support like that provided by the My Safe Florida Home program.
- I would urge Florida’s incoming CFO and Governor to work collaboratively to fight for a National Catastrophe Fund that would help spread the risk of natural disasters.
Consumer Advocacy: More Important Than Ever
Our elected officials must recognize in these tight economic times that Floridians need consumer protection, advocacy and education more than ever.
- The state should explore collaborative partnerships with private sector and non-profit organizations and sharing of best practices between state agencies to provide education, advocacy and consumer protections. My administration has had a number of successful collaborations
lyfor initiatives including the Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force, Florida Housing Help, Florida Attorneys Saving Homes and more.
- Consumer education is critical, but it is incumbent upon government to enforce consumer protections against fraudsters.
- Florida’s new leaders must also continue to hold those responsible in the BP oil spill accountable, and keep the pressure on the GCCF claims administrator to ensure that impacted Floridians are rightfully compensated for the damages they have incurred.
Public-Private Collaboration to Improve State Government
Our incoming Cabinet Officers should ensure that Florida’s state agencies use private sector best practices and expert advice to increase efficiency and lower costs, and encourage state agencies to work together collaboratively in order to best serve the people of Florida.
- I encourage Florida’s new leaders to continue to explore and implement private sector best practices and engage industry leaders, such as I have established with the Advisory Council on Risk Management.
- State agencies should also be urged to work together more collaboratively to find efficiencies, reduce expenses and improve customer services, similar to the “Vets Connect” partnership we were able to achieve with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Getting A Good Deal While Protecting Florida’s Natural Resources
Florida’s officials must ensure that Floridians get the best deal for their taxpayer dollars when buying land for conservation, and especially when leasing Florida’s sovereign submerged lands, while still protecting Florida’s natural treasures that are key to our state’s economy.
- As funding is available for the Florida Forever land purchasing program, I encourage Florida’s incoming elected officials to consider negotiating conservation easements instead of full-fee purchases and allowing the current owner to manage the lands, an additional savings for our state and a “win-win” arrangement for all.
- Looking forward, Florida’s new leaders should consider and plan for changes resulting from the impact of climate change on our state’s coasts. The state’s coastal areas are facing escalating risks from higher intensity storms and sea level rise, and fundamental shifts in development as well as insurance policies need to be considered to ensure that the public does not inordinately bear the risk of loss.