As the lead government watchdog for the citizens of Florida, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has announced his priorities in his 2013 legislative agenda. Atwater says he will continue to follow the principles that have marked his first two years in office, and will advocate for reforms that increase government transparency and accountability, protect Florida’s consumers, fight fraud, get government off the backs of hardworking Floridians and foster economic prosperity.
“As we start to see positive signs toward economic recovery, we have an even greater responsibility to continue to advocate for reforms that will foster long-term economic stability,” Atwater said. “My commitment to the ideals Floridians elected me to pursue remains strong. Every action I’ve taken as your CFO has been driven by one mission—that government is transparent, accountable and effective with the spending of every single dollar that is extracted from the pockets of hardworking Floridians. These reforms reflect that mission, and I look forward to even more successes this legislative session on behalf of Floridians.”
Atwater released the key reforms he will be pursuing:
Transparency and Accountability
- Protecting taxpayer dollars through state contracting reforms: Continuing his commitment to government transparency following the launch of the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), CFO Atwater will propose several reforms aimed at increasing accountability in state contracting. These will include provisions that strengthen laws regarding grant agreements, which make up 82 percent of contracted items in Florida, increase training for grant managers and negotiators and create a pre-execution review period for grants and contracts.
- Fighting for Florida’s Holocaust survivors: This bill will allow CFO Atwater’s office to facilitate the return of lost property to Holocaust victims; in doing so, it will allow the department to seek restitution for Nazi-confiscated bank accounts, art and property. Additionally, it will permit the department to assist survivors in receiving needed health benefits.
- Protecting Floridians from unnecessary financial burdens: Rapidly advancing medical research and technology have led to a substitute for intravenous chemotherapy treatment—oral chemotherapy, in the form of pills. Typically, intravenous chemotherapy is billed under a medical benefit plan; conversely, oral chemotherapy is viewed as a pharmacy benefit and thus is not covered by a prescription drug plan. To remedy this, the CFO will support legislation that provides a group insurance policy which covers orally administered cancer chemotherapy treatment and subsequently prevents companies for increasing copayment, deductible or coinsurance for orally administered anti-cancer medication.
- Arming divisions with the tools to fight fraud: This bill provides the Division of Public Assistance Fraud with subpoena authority, which will help investigators obtain critical information for investigations in a more timely fashion. This reform is expected to increase the efficiency and improve the integrity of public assistance fraud investigations.
Getting Government off the Backs of Hardworking Floridians
- Streamlining the Divisions of Workers’ Comp and State Fire Marshal: As a result of ongoing regulatory reviews throughout the department, the CFO will be seeking increased efficiency and the elimination of outdated laws in the Divisions of Workers’ Compensation and State Fire Marshal. It is important to regularly review laws, rules and policies that may no longer be fulfilling their intended goals. These reforms, which will achieve needed operational and administrative updates, are expected to simplify compliance for regulated entities and ensure that government reaches no farther than is necessary to protect the public.
Fostering Economic Prosperity
- Streamlining unclaimed property claims process: This bill will allow for the claims process to be done electronically. Electronic claims functionality will eliminate the need to manually process approximately 27 percent of all claims, thereby decreasing the overall processing time and returning dollars to Floridians more quickly.
“I am confident that our legislative leaders are as committed to these principles as I am. I look forward to working with our sponsors to advocate for reforms that will help Florida continue down the path of economic recovery,” CFO Atwater said.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses and providing transparency and accountability in state spending.