By Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer
Since I took office almost a year ago, a few core missions and values drive my decisions as your Chief Financial Officer. You deserve a government that protects your hard-earned dollars and that is why my key initiatives continue to focus on transparency and accountability, finance and economy, and fraud and consumer protection.
With the next legislative session beginning in January, my 2012 legislative agenda will focus on four core themes that support these initiatives: transparency in contracts and government spending, protecting consumers, fighting fraud, and reducing regulatory burdens on Florida’s businesses.
Honoring my commitment to government transparency, several of my proposed reforms are aimed at strengthening accountability in state contracting. This effort includes expanded powers to monitor state agency procurements for compliance as well as authority to review and approve or reject state contracts prior to execution. To ensure that tax dollars are being spent wisely, my aim is to increase competition in the state bidding process.
Recent news reports have highlighted increasing trends in identity theft in Florida. As a consumer protection measure, I will work to close a oophole that allows certain groups to obtain social security information from the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Unclaimed Property. In an effort to curb the increase of PIP fraud and give Floridians the relief they deserve on their auto insurance rates, my appointed Insurance Consumer Advocate convened a working group to gather and develop ideas to address the fraud and other potential alternatives to Florida’s urrent no-fault system which will be presented to the Legislature.
To address a new Worker’s Compensation fraud scheme that is putting pressure on rates and crippling the business community, I called for a work group to make recommendations for combating workers’ compensation premium fraud. As I host business roundtables across the state, a top concern has been the burdensome regulations that stifle business growth. I am asking the Legislature to repeal or rework laws that do not add value to Florida’s consumers or businesses, starting with some I have identified in my own agency.
Further, Florida must streamline its information technology services, and I am pursuing a modern IT structure to accomplish this goal. In this challenging economic climate, we have a deep responsibility to create the conditions that will bring down costs for Florida’s families and businesses. I’m confident the Legislature is equally committed to fostering economic success and reducing financial burdens on Florida’s businesses and families, and I look forward to working with them toward these important goals.
Editor’s Note: Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse, and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.