Florida fines SunPass contractor $4.6 million for system upgrade failures

SunPass will continue to waive fees, penalties until June 1

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida governor and the state transportation secretary are taking action Friday against the SunPass contractor who botched the toll payment system's upgrade almost one year ago.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault announced Friday day that they are fining Conduent $4.6 million for the failed upgrade and the yearlong billing problems that began June 1, 2018.

SunPass will also continue to suspend fees one year after an upgrade implemented by a contractor caused a system-wide outage and seven months backlogged tolls.

DeSantis said after hearing concerns from customers of SunPass and their hardships with delayed bills and errors, he directed FDOT to continue suspending fees and penalties until June 1.

SunPass customers began experiencing problems on June 1, 2018, when the contractor, Conduent, went live with the SunPass billing and website updates.

[STEP BY STEP: Instructions to find out if you've been overcharged]

“This is a technology issue for Conduent, but it’s a customer service issue for citizens," DeSantis said. "I’ve been working closely with the new FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault to ensure customers are protected and receive a premium level of service.” 

Thibault said FDOT continues to withhold payment from Conduent due to the company's performance.

"I've instructed the Turnpike’s executive director to assess maximum performance penalties allowed under the contract for the Conduent’s operational and performance deficiencies, which totals $4.6 million to date," Thibault said in a statement.

In February, Florida lawmakers demanded answers from FDOT about the continued fallout from the system upgrade.

In his response to Florida Sen. Tom Lee Thibault said the department picked Conduent out of a field of six qualified vendors. He also said FDOT retains the right to end the contract for material breach. Any replacement contract would need to be procured to find the appropriate vendors available in accordance with state law, Thibault said in his letter to Lee.

“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.”

News 6 has contacted Conduent for comment and is waiting to hear back.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

 

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