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My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Florida’s accounting and financial management system that balances the state’s checkbook, pays all the bills, and processes payroll for the state’s employees debuted in 1981. This is also the year MTV debuted, the year the Oldsmobile Cutlass was the number one selling car, and a year before the World Wide Web was opened to the public.

It’s clear that a lot has changed in the last 34 years and it’s critical that our current system, known more commonly as FLAIR, change in order to more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of our state. As Florida’s economy continues to grow, leading more people to call Florida home, it has become even more important that our system is able to meet the demands of processing nearly $90 billion worth of payments annually.

While FLAIR has been patched, updated, and modified many times, these workarounds are becoming increasingly time consuming, more expensive, and leave the state exposed to unnecessary risks. An independent study conducted in 2013 affirmed this assessment and the necessity of replacing FLAIR with an updated resource planning system better suited to grow alongside Florida’s robust economy.

Florida PALMIn 2014, the Legislature wisely appropriated funds to ensure there are dedicated staff and a solid plan in place to usher in this complex system transition. These efforts, formerly called the FLAIR and CMS Replacement (FCR) Project, have been recently rebranded as Florida PALM. PALM is an acronym for Planning, Accounting, and Ledger Management, which speaks to the broader functionality of our state’s new system.

Government works the best when it operates as efficiently as possible. I’m confident transitioning to PALM will allow for improved functionality in the future and I encourage you to follow along as we make this exciting multi-year transition.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Florida RealEstateRama: CFO Atwater Focused on Supporting Florida’s Workforce, Streamlining Government and Fighting Fraud During 2015 Legislative Session

Panama City News Herald: Florida CFO illustrates state’s economic advantage

Palm Beach Post: Is Florida economy among the U.S.' best?

Sunshine State News: Jeff Atwater to Focus on Health, Fiscal and Insurance Issues in Legislative Session

USA Today: Employment jumps in February

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Small-business jobs on the rebound

Florida Times Union: 'Medical Tourism' is the next big idea to build Jacksonville's reputation

Florida Today: Nation's largest mall planned for Florida

Orlando Sentinel: Orlando ranks as the 'hardest working' city in Florida

March is Women's History Month

Each week this month, we are featuring prominent American women leaders and highlighting their contributions to our country.

Julia Tuttle (1848-1898) 

Julia Tuttle first came to Florida via steamship to visit her mother and father who lived in South Florida. An astute businesswoman, Tuttle was largely responsible for the development of Miami, knowing decent transportation was needed. As an owner of hundreds of acres of land north of the Miami River, Tuttle approached railroad mogul Henry Flagler and worked out a plan to extend his railroad to what is now Miami. Tuttle’s business savvy and desire to see the area she loved grow produced one of America’s greatest cities. For this reason, she is called the "Mother of Miami."

You Are Invited to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on March 17 at 3:30 p.m.

State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater would like you to help honor Florida's heroes in the Capitol Courtyard on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. There will be a reception immediately following the ceremony in the Historic Capitol. Please RSVP here. Details concerning hotels and parking are available on the webpage at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/FFM/details.htm.

Division of Insurance Fraud Invites Public Comment During Reaccreditation Process

Insurance Fraud BadgeThe Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud is inviting public comment as the division proceeds through its reaccreditation process. Accreditation is a certification issued by an independent reviewing authority confirming that an entity has met specific requirements and prescribed standards of excellence. The Division of Insurance Fraud became accredited in February 2009 and was awarded reaccreditation in June 2012.

The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. (CFA) is the accrediting body for law enforcement agencies in the state of Florida. Accreditation requires consistency, transparency and accountability that are confirmed through an on-site assessment. To ensure compliance with accreditation standards, assessors review written materials, interview agency members and observe issued equipment and facilities.

On April 7-9, 2015, three assessors will confirm the Division of Insurance Fraud’s compliance with nearly 260 CFA accreditation standards at headquarters, located in Tallahassee, Florida. The assessment team is comprised of law enforcement practitioners from various law enforcement agencies across Florida. The team leader is Special Agent Tim Elder of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with assessors Master Police Officer Eric Wels of the Altamonte Springs Police Department and Deputy Will Stone of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. As part of the on-site visit process, assessors will also visit the division’s offices in Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami. This assessment team includes Chief Michelle Cook of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Sergeant Patty Stanton of the Temple Terrace Police Department and Ms. Ana Guerra of the Key Biscayne Police Department.

To become reaccredited would reaffirm the division’s continued commitment to professional excellence and would increase the division's ability to fulfill its mission of serving and safeguarding the public and businesses operating in the state of Florida against acts of insurance fraud.

Comments about the Division of Insurance Fraud’s compliance with the CFA standards can be sent to The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement. Letters may be submitted to: CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, Florida 32302. Email correspondence may be forwarded to: info@flaccreditation.org. For further information or for a copy of the CFA standards, please contact Lieutenant Tim Hartley, Accreditation Manager, at (850) 413-3115.

Panama City Resident Pleads No Contest to Charge of Acting as a Bail Bond Agent Without a License

Insurance Fraud BadgeThe Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud recently announced Chris Smith of Panama City pled no contest to three charges of acting as a bail bond agent without a license and one charge of burglary. He has been sentenced to 30 months in a state prison, which will be served concurrently with a previous sentence of 60 months for witness tampering in a related case led by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. He has also been ordered to pay investigative costs.

Smith’s case was heard by the 14th Judicial Circuit, but was prosecuted by the office of 1st Judicial Circuit Attorney Bill Eddins.

Anyone with information about suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services has awarded nearly $365,000 to 63 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.

Stop Adult Financial Exploitation

Operation S.A.F.E.Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • The Psychology of a Scam
  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft
  • Resources to Keep You Safe

Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the workshops in West Palm Beach and Miami Gardens.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s economy ranked among the top 10 best in nation
According to a recent report by Business Insider, Florida’s economy ranks 7th best in the nation due to several economic factors. Florida ranks 5th in the nation for over-the-year growth in housing prices and nonfarm payroll. Additionally, Florida’s government surplus is ranked 3rd largest in the country.
Source: Business Insider

Florida ranked First in Freedom as most free state in nation
Florida ranked number 1 in the First in Freedom Index by the John Locke Foundation. The Index is comprised of four categories: fiscal freedom, educational freedom, regulatory freedom, and health care freedom. Florida ranked highest in fiscal freedom and educational freedom.
Source: John Locke Foundation

Outlook on 2015

Outlook on 2015This issue of Florida’s Bottom Line highlights opportunities for 2015, as well as issues from 2014. It includes economic forecasts and expert analysis on Florida from leading economists, along with insightful outlooks on key industries from the industry leaders themselves, including one from Steven T. Halverson.

Steven T. Halverson, Chief Executive Officer of Haskell Company: The Florida real estate and construction industry is poised for a strong 2015. Four factors converge: (1) improving underlying demand; (2) continued low interest rate environment; (3) favorable conditions for business expansion in Florida; and, (4) low energy costs. 2015 should be the best year since the recession and I am bullish on the long-term future for Florida. Read more.