[tabi] Re: Press Release Florida Department of Education

  • From: "Easy Talk" <Easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2012 11:59:56 -0500

Well I was going to keep my mouth shut on this article but after getting it so much from different list and individuals I just can't do that.


It is hard to decide where too start but here goes.

I think the article is a defense mechanism as apposed to clearing up what DOE apparently considers misstated facts by the press.

The first paragraph says
Setting the Record Straight: Contracting in the Division of Blind
Services The November 12 article and November 15 follow-up in the Tampa
Bay Times contained errors of omission and fact, which may have led to unfounded conclusions.

Pay close attention to, which may have led to
unfounded conclusions. That doesn't mean they weren't unfounded. in fact in my opinion they were very founded based on the IG's management review of DBS done by Guess who. I couldn't find anything in the article that convinced me that the article in the Tampa and Miami paper was so
misconstrued it warranted a press release especially since DOE hasn't
responded to a letter from FCB requesting a meeting to discuss the
management review of DBS. In most cases Doe could care less about DBS unless there is a problem and now there is so it's time to send out the defense team.

What is apparent is the fact that both DOE and the media don't have all the facts or don't want the public to know and that is understandable to a
degree but not exceptable in my book.

Below are some of my comments thoughts and research I have done.

Article: "Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the state's
Division of Blind Services will now competitively bid its contracts."

Doe doesn't deny this.  An explanation is given but what was in the media
was correct so what is the point? Maybe passing the buck.
 If the Governor says doo it, then you do it.

\
Article: "Gov. Rick Scott, who has sought to privatize government services
at an accelerated pace since taking office, has talked about strengthening
contract transparency and uniformity. But state officials have done little
to address contracting complaints."
Fact: The Division of Blind Services began moving to using private
providers for service in 1988, prior to merging with FDOE. Statutes at the
time exempted the division from seeking competitive bids. It is under the
current Governor that the contracting process is being changed.

Not sure why going back to how things were done in 1988 or the relevance it
has to do with what has happened with DBS in the last four years has to do
with now but the current statute that allows DBS to not competitively bid the light House contracts is S 287.057(3)(e) (f). This same statute also has the following provision for exemption.

e(i)
A contingency-plan provision that describes the mechanism for continuing the operation of the service or activity, including transferring the service or activity back to the state agency or successor contractor if the contractor fails to perform and comply with the performance standards and levels of the contract and the contract is terminated.

This is the most scary part. So far after contacting DOE and DBS, no one seems to know about a contingency-plan. Don't think for a minute that a Light House couldn't go defunct, Remember the Palm Beach dilemma and Just prior to Barbara Ross taking the directors job of the then FIRE here in
Tallahassee, our own Light House was pretty close to nothing.

Article: "Division of Blind Services can bill taxpayers $58 an hour for
travel time to meet with a blind person. The same organizations can charge
taxpayers $2,000 or more to place one phone call."
Fact: The story refers to a fee schedule that is a federal requirement,
which can apply when services are not covered by contract with a community
resource provider (CRP). Most services are covered by contract and it is
not the norm to pay for services via this schedule. For example, the fee
schedule might be for a vision specialist to travel to someone's home and
provide service. Fees can be negotiated to provide lower rates as was the
case when the Bradenton district office negotiated the fee from $58 to
$37.50 per hour.
The $2,000 cited is not an accurate amount used in any contract. There is
n o reimbursement for a single telephone call by a CRP.

here is a clause from one of the contracts DBS has with the light Houses and
although I haven't reviewed all the contracts, for the most part they are
boiler plate and my guess is this clause is in all or most of them so Doe
takes one on the chin for this one.
So much for not being the norm.

. Itinerant Services provided to an individual residing outside the
county(ies) served as specified in Attachment F, Counties Served and
Specific Services and Definitions, whereby the instructor travels to the
individual's domicile or place of employment.
a. These services must be approved by the contract manager and will be
procured on a purchase order at a rate not to exceed $70 per hour.
b. Reimbursement for travel time. Time spent traveling to and from an
individual's domicile and/or place of employment is considered time worked
and will be included on the purchase order at a rate not to exceed $70 per
hour. Monthly Progress Reports may indicate time spent in travel status.

Article: "The state agency with a $52 million budget has largely
privatized its support programs as a way to save money and better serve a
group of 11,000 Floridians in need, state officials say."
Fact: The entire $52 million annual budget is not expended on service
contracts. In FY 2010/2011, $15,265,543 went to contracts. The larger
amount of the budget is used for services provided directly by DBS staff.

This is intentionally misleading unless there has been a major change in DBS's budget. Pay close attention to the facts as stated by DOE. Only half or less of the 52 plus million budget is actually spent on client services. The rest is spent on operating expenses such as salaries, office equipment, furniture, social security taxes, federal tax with holding and all other operational expenses. So using our scenario around 26 million is spent on actual client services and DOE admits that over 15 million is spent on contracts. As you can see that doesn't leave much for other client services or actual equipment purchases for the client. Now you know why you are told that DBS can train you but can't purchase the equipment you requested. Well over half of client service funds are going to the Light Houses. If Doe was really concerned about services to Blind citizens they would look at how much the contracts have increased since Mrs. Hildreth became director. State employees haven't had a raise in several years but employees of Light Houses have and in fact some contracted employees get annual bonuses. Now how can all this be more cost effective if half of the budget is for client services and by contracting out services you decrease the actual amount of money spent on client services since all the contractors also have operating expenses such as new building payments and directors that make $200,000.00 a year. Can anyone please explain this statement by DOE to me?
The larger
amount of the budget is used for services provided directly by DBS staff. What service does DBS staff provide other than paper work.

Conclusion
Apparently DOE thinks blind people are so stupid we would believe what ever crap they throw at us. When the IG's report first came out I had to blame DBS, now that the cat is out of the bag and Doe is aware, I now blame DOE and the Governor for allowing this rip off of tax payers.

Many issues outlined in the IG's report haven't been addressed and until Mrs. Hildreth is removed from her throne, services and moral of DBS employees will continue to decline and in fact that may be exactly what the state wants to happen so they can shove DBS under VR which in my opinion is what the Governor wants and was talking about when he was first elected.


a Original Message ----- From: "Toni King" <tkk@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:30 PM
Subject: [tabi] Press Release Florida Department of Education


[Nfbf-l] Press Release Florida Department of Education

Press Release
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413
Setting the Record Straight: Contracting in the Division of Blind Services
The November 12 article and November 15 follow-up in the Tampa Bay Times
contained errors of omission and fact, which may have led to unfounded
conclusions.
Article: "Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the state's
Division of Blind Services will now competitively bid its contracts."
Fact: During an interview with the reporter on October 11, Commissioner
Stewart said the department was reviewing all contracts, including those
of the Division of Blind Services (DBS), as part of the Governor's
initiative to reduce contract costs. Reviewing contracts is a precursor to
competitive bidding.
Specifically, discussions about bidding contracts had been underway since
May 2012. The first documented formal process began in September with a
request to DBS for a list of their 20 largest service contracts from the
FDOE attorney who oversees the legal side of FDOE contracting and serves
on the Governor's task force to reduce contracting costs.
Article: "Gov. Rick Scott, who has sought to privatize government services
at an accelerated pace since taking office, has talked about strengthening
contract transparency and uniformity. But state officials have done little
to address contracting complaints."
Fact: The Division of Blind Services began moving to using private
providers for service in 1988, prior to merging with FDOE. Statutes at the
time exempted the division from seeking competitive bids. It is under the
current Governor that the contracting process is being changed.
Article: "Division of Blind Services can bill taxpayers $58 an hour for
travel time to meet with a blind person. The same organizations can charge
taxpayers $2,000 or more to place one phone call."
Fact: The story refers to a fee schedule that is a federal requirement,
which can apply when services are not covered by contract with a community
resource provider (CRP). Most services are covered by contract and it is
not the norm to pay for services via this schedule. For example, the fee
schedule might be for a vision specialist to travel to someone's home and
provide service. Fees can be negotiated to provide lower rates as was the
case when the Bradenton district office negotiated the fee from $58 to
$37.50 per hour.
The $2,000 cited is not an accurate amount used in any contract. There is
n o reimbursement for a single telephone call by a CRP.
Article: "The state agency with a $52 million budget has largely
privatized its support programs as a way to save money and better serve a
group of 11,000 Floridians in need, state officials say."
Fact: The entire $52 million annual budget is not expended on service
contracts. In FY 2010/2011, $15,265,543 went to contracts. The larger
amount of the budget is used for services provided directly by DBS staff.
Article: "Loosely written contracts also allow vendors to make big money
by taking advantage of loopholes, the former employees say. A provider,
for example, is paid from about $2,000 to $9,000 per month for each person
it plans to serve. The state pays the money no matter how - or how many
times - a provider helps a client." "So whether a provider makes 10
in-house visits, or just one phone call, the money comes in all the same."
Fact: Contract payments are based on budgetary limitations, as well as
market cost findings resulting from a 2009 Public Consulting Group
analysis of costs to provide services. The average annual reimbursement
rates for the following programs are Blind Babies - $2691; Youth
Transition from school to work - $9600. Approximations of these annual
service amounts were incorrectly represented as monthly payments, when
they should have been cited as annual payments per client. Both of these
programs involve comprehensive services provided over an extended period
of time, in most cases years. CRPs are required to submit detailed reports
of services provided. Article: "During the 2012 legislative session the
Division asked for and received more than $540,000 in additional money to
provide care for 201 blind babies on a state waiting list. But the vendors
already received funding from nonprofit groups to cover the expenses
associated with 172 of the same babies, documents show."
Fact: The average state funding level for services for a blind baby is
$2,691 per baby, which is less than the average actual cost of services
(approximately $4,000). In 2011-12, DBS served 473 babies through the
Blind Babies program. The division requested $540,891 more from the
legislature for the current fiscal year to serve 201 babies on the waiting
list. DBS also shifted $8,073 from unused contract funds for a total of
204 additional babies. DBS will serve 677 babies in the Blind Babies
program in fiscal year 2012-13. The increased funding is fully dedicated
to serving blind babies._Read More News..._ (aoldb://mail/news/default.asp
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and please make suggestions for new material.



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