Tallahassee, FL - Gov. Rick Scott appointed former CIGNA executive Jack Miles to take over the Department of Management Services, an agency frequently criticized for sloppy management of the state’s property and contracts.
"State government has to learn to live within its means, and Jack Miles will make sure that our state spends taxpayer dollars more wisely as we tighten the belt across the entire government," Scott said in a prepared statement.
Miles will be taking over a department that has been maligned by key lawmakers who contend the department was wasting taxpayer dollars and going over budget on new buildings such as the First District Court of Appeal building, which includes miles of African mahogany, granite countertops and other high-end fixtures.
Former DMS Secretary Linda South also came under major scrutiny by lawmakers last year when she could not provide a Senate committee a complete listing of all the state owned buildings and leases. The Senate budget committee blasted South repeatedly during the spring 2010 session and ultimately never got what it was looking for, said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, a member of the committee.
“The state of Florida doesn’t know what it’s doing, what it’s spending, doesn’t even know what it owns and leases,” Gaetz said. “That’s outrageous.”
Scott repeatedly said on the campaign trail and in his first few weeks as governor that he could cut government spending and that the state could be run more efficiently. He specifically pointed to Miles’ cost cutting experience as a senior director at CIGNA, a health services company that Miles worked at from May 2008 through December 2010.
According to Scott, Miles cut costs resulting in a savings of $80 million over a 20-month period. Though an official start date was not part of the announcement, Scott said Miles would immediately begin reviewing DMS contracts.
The appointment won quick praise from Senate President Mike Haridopolos and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who both praised Miles’ business experience. Prior to working at CIGNA, he served as vice president of global procurement for Computer Associates and was chief procurement officer for American International Group.
“Gov. Scott’s appointment of Jack Miles further solidifies his commitment to reduce costs and ensure government is living within its means,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce Chair Allan Bense, who also served as speaker of the Florida House from 2004 to 2006.
House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, was tempered in his public comments though, noting that the department has “serious organic flaws” and that the House had previously wanted to put DMS under the purview of the Cabinet instead of the governor’s office.
“I know that Gov. Scott recognizes the clear defects in the department’s ability to provide appropriate supervision and to take responsibility for critical projects, and we are looking forward to working with Gov. Scott and Secretary Miles to review their plans to rectify the significant structural issues within the department,” Cannon said in prepared remarks.
Gaetz said he likes what he has heard so far about Miles’ background and is hopeful Miles and Scott will be able to turn the department around. But he acknowledged there are a lot of changes that need to happen for the agency to gain the confidence of lawmakers.
“DMS has to be a smarter, more timely, more careful steward of taxpayer dollars in order to regain my confidence,” he said. “Over the last two or three years, we have seen evidence, which if it weren’t so disturbing would be a cause for humor about how silly and how sorry some of our state contracting has been made. I think there’s a lot of improvement needed and there’s a lot of improvement that is possible.”