POLITICO by Matt Dixon
October 17, 2017
Less than three months after a legislative session dominated by a fight over adding transparency to spending by Visit Florida, a no-bid $900,000 contract administered by that organization was quietly approved with no questions from top lawmakers.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron both could have expressed concerns under transparency laws passed during a June special session, but chose not to do so. When asked about it, both declined to comment.
The contract, which is legislatively mandated, called for producing marketing material for the Florida is for Veterans program, which is geared toward getting military veterans to move to Florida. It is run through Visit Florida, the state’s top tourism-marketing agency, which came under heat from Corcoran last year for what he said was mismanaged spending.
“The campaign is focused almost exclusively on recruiting veterans outside of Florida and encouraging them to relocate to Florida by reinforcing the state’s standing as the ‘most veteran friendly state in the nation,’” read a budget amendment that received approval Sept. 19.
The contract was initially competitively bid in 2015 when the veterans program was created. Of the three firms in the final running, Miles Partnership was selected as part of the competitive bid process.
There has not been a competitive process since 2015. Over the three-year life of the program, Miles Partnership has been re-awarded the contract, which has grown from $700,000 to $900,000 since the program’s inception.
Stephen Lawson, a Visit Florida spokesman, said the reason the agency has awarded the no-bid contracts to Miles Partnership since 2015 is for “building brand consistency.
“Building brand consistency is important for marketing purposes,” he said, noting that contract performance is evaluated annually and competitively bid every three to five years. [READ MORE]