FDOT secretary responds to lawmaker questions about SunPass

Report explains how committee picked contractor over 4 others

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than two weeks after receiving an urgent letter demanding answers about issues with Florida's major toll provider, SunPass, from a state senator, newly appointed Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault responded to the long list of questions.

[READ: See full letter from FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault to Sen. Tom Lee]

In his five-page response to state Sen. Tom Lee, Thibault addresses everything from how the department picked the current contractor out of a field of six qualified vendors, to how they plan on determining if they will keep the current contractor Conduent, or terminate the contract.

Lee was demanding answers about the fallout from last summer's SunPass upgrade meltdown.

“The Department understands and shares your concerns and the public frustration over implementation of the Centralized Customer Service System. The agency welcomed and is fully cooperating with the chief inspector general’s investigation of the CCSS,” Thibault wrote. “We remain committed to ensuring Conduent’s complete and prompt resolution of any problems with the system and holding Conduent accountable for its performance deficiencies."

Thibault writes that his agency will soon be making assessments, which ensure the department holds the contractor accountable -- as well as continuing to confirm that the traveling public is not significantly impacted by the contractor’s performance.  

“The Department has been clear with Conduent that it reserves all its rights under the contract, including the right to assess performance liquidated damages for not meeting the operational and maintenance performance requirements after Go-Live,” said Thibault. “The maximum downward adjustment to Conduent’s monthly operating compensation under this provision is 25 percent.”

The letter goes on to say the contract and applicable law provides a number of other remedies, including the right to terminate the contract for material breach. Thibault also writes that any replacement contract would need to be procured to find the appropriate vendors available in accordance with state law.

Thibault said within his first two weeks on the job, he directed added resources to address the numerous problems with the SunPass Centralized Customer Service System.

He said they have also adjusted staff to focus on improving the overall customer service experience. 

However, he said they are still waiting to see the outcome of the toll by plate invoices before they determine how to hold the contractor accountable.

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