Sunpass vendor involved in multiple lawsuits before hired by Florida

Posted: Jul 18, 2018 7:02 PM Updated:

Florida's cashless tolling system, SunPass, is slowly getting back up to speed after being off-line for a month during an upgrade.

The state has been paying the vendor, Conduent State & Local Solutions, hundreds of millions of tax dollars, even when the system wasn't working.

RELATED: SunPass services return after month offline

On Monday, the state said it would be suspending those payments until the system was fixed.

RELATED: FDOT SUSPENDING FUTURE PAYMENTS TO VENDOR RESPONSIBLE FOR SUNPASS ISSUES

The NBC2 Investigators have analyzed contracts and court documents, and discovered that Florida isn't the first to have issues with Conduent. We found two lawsuits involving Conduent in New York and in California.

 

 

News outlets reported similar problems in New York, California, Texas, Michigan, Connecticut, and Maryland.

"Anything to save a buck for them, thats how it works," said Judy Melendez of Cape Coral, a SunPass customer. "They should've done their research. They should've considered the problems in other states and thought about it before they signed such a big contract."

A lawmaker in New York is calling on his state to cancel contracts with Conduent after cashless tolling issues happened there.

"We’ve experienced problem after problem. It appears that Conduent is getting all of the contracts and we’re seeing the same problems popping up everywhere," said Representative Tom Abinanti, New York State Assembly, District 92. "I think the states should get together, compare notes, and see what we can do to produce a better bid. Toss out the contracts with Conduent and go out and bid again."

So did the Sunshine State do its research before signing into a $343 million dollar contract with Conduent?

"I believe that most of the issues that arose with Conduent occurred after the contract was rewarded," Senator Kathleen Passidomo, District 28 said. "There was no question brought up as to the competency or problems with Conduent during that administrative hearing."

Now that Conduent has taken responsibility and is fixing the issues, Senator Passidomo doesn't think the state should pull the plug on the contract.

"I believe we should continue with the process because what would happen if we terminate the contract? We'd have to go through that whole process again of bidding and negotiating, and would do we do in the meantime?" Passidomo said.

We also asked the Florida Department of Transportation why Florida would sign a contract with a vendor who has a track record of mishandling customer service while updating cashless toll systems.

Ed Seifert, Interim Communications Director for the Florida Department of Transportation said:

"On November 1, 2013, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) advertised an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), soliciting proposals from firms interested in participating in competitive negotiations for the award of a contract to provide a Centralized Customer Service System (CCSS) and associated operations and maintenance. The ITN was issued pursuant to section 287.057, Florida Statutes. In accordance with Department of Management Services (DMS), FDOT procedures and Florida Statutes, six vendors, including Conduent, were deemed qualified to submit formal proposals.

Conduent was ranked as the best value contractor and was awarded the contract. Conduent was at the time, and still is, a vendor qualified to do business in the State of Florida and with FDOT pursuant to DMS and FDOT procurement rules.

The Department’s decision to choose Conduent was protested pursuant to Florida law. Administrative Law Judge Linzie F. Bogan concluded on September 4, 2014, after a five-day hearing, that the Department followed all applicable Florida laws in choosing Conduent."

FDOT said customers will not be charged "late fees or penalties" until the system is fully operational. But if you're still having trouble with your SunPass account, we want to know about it. Email us your story at investigators@nbc-2.com

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