SunPass backlog caught up; Florida contractor fined $800,000

Investigation launched into contractor over system failures, mismanagement

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - After dealing with 75 days of backlogged tolls and countless complaints from SunPass customers, the Florida Department of Transportation said it is caught up on those toll fees and will be calling for a state investigation and will fine the state contractor behind the botched upgrade nearly $800,000.

"The Department will hold Conduent fully accountable for its failures in implementing the CCSS through assessment of liquidated damages," Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew said. "Failure by any vendor is completely unacceptable and Conduent is no exception. We look forward to the information gained through the chief inspector general's investigation and will continue to closely monitor all of Conduent's activity to ensure Floridians are receiving the excellent service and support they deserve."

On Tuesday afternoon, the department said it has caught up on the massive 330 million toll transaction backlog, and that SunPass customers will now see their accounts charged and processed for tolls in real time.

However, it may take some customers several days if not weeks to pay off their SunPass accounts and it may take just as long for them to get reimbursed for any bank overdrafts they incurred as a result.

While FDOT has not announced details of its claim process yet, state Rep. Bob Cortes said customers should be getting those details by Wednesday on SunPass.com.

"I've been working on this SunPass issue for months and I'm glad to see the call for investigation and fines being levied by FDOT," Cortes said. "Still much to be done and it may be time to look at future contracts and how toll revenue is collected and used."

FDOT officials said late fees and penalties will continue to be waived to give SunPass customers time to manage the transactions that have now posted to their accounts. 

Customers who have questions regarding their accounts may reach a SunPass representative at 1-888-TOLL-FLA or 1-888-865-5352. They can also log on to www.SunPass.com or download the SunPass mobile application.

Cortes also provided News 6 with a letter sent to Conduent's program manager Tuesday from FDOT's director of toll systems.

It outlines a timeline of each documented failure and how much in fines the state vendor will pay as a result: $205,000 for failure to achieve system integration by Feb. 16, $175,000 for failure to achieve go live by March 23, $400,000 ($5,000 per day for 80 days) for the delay in go live after March 23. The fines totaling $780,000 in liquidated damages for the implementation phase of the new website and payment system.

Conduent could face even more penalties and fines if more problems pop up in the future.

"The department's assessment of liquidated damages for the Implementation phase shall not constitute a waiver of any other rights or remedies the department has under the terms of the contract, particularly the right to assess performance liquididated damages and recover actual damages attributable to Conduent's performance during the Operations and Maintenance Phase," Floyd "Buzz" Holland, FDOT director of toll systems, said in his letter to Karen Caruso, program manager for Conduent.

Customers with questions about their account may reach a SunPass representative at 888-TOLL-FLA, or 888-865-5352. Officials said customers can also log on to SunPass.com or download the SunPass mobile application.

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