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Investigation calls for more Sunpass oversight

Posted at 7:56 AM, Nov 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-27 08:13:03-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla – A new investigation into last year’s Sunpass debacle, which caused overbilling issues for thousands of customers, calls for more oversight and transparency. It also calls for better communication with customers.

According to an article from Fox 4’s sister station WPTV in West Palm Beach, the governor's chief inspector general just wrapped of a long-awaited investigation into the botched upgrade of the Sunpass toll collection system. You may recall there was an error made by a contractor named Conduent.

It caused overbilling and delayed payment issues for many of its customers, leading to a suspension of tolls so the state could look into it. Now, the new recommendation is that the Department of Transportation have smaller, more manageable vendor contracts and more oversight, pointing to a heavy reliance on consultants as the issue.

It also wants FDOT to have better communication with customers, who have dealt with headaches of overcharges and poor customer service to get it resolved.

“You think you can trust a certain thing and you find out it's something different,” said Chad Wilson, a Sunpass customer.

"Surprise! I receive an invoice totaling eight months-worth of the entire ticket charge," adds another customer named Valerie Conlin.

The new 61-page report also gets into what's next with the millions of dollars in uncollected funds, and any future new system.

It suggests that it will still be several more months before the state can understand the total loss, as it continues working to collect from customers.

The report said that as of July, about $184 million remained uncollected. This was for toll transactions between June 11th, when the new system went live, and May 31, when it was considered back to normal.

You may recall back in September, Fox 4 told you losses could exceed $50 million. Turnpike Enterprises said that up to 60% of the backlog might never be recovered.

In light of this new report, FDOT said it's considering replacing its current customer service.

As far as any new system, the report recommends, among other things, that future projects of this size be overseen by a state project director who reports to a senior level manager. This would in turn put less power in the hands of consultants.

When it comes time for any new system, the report also recommends a soft roll-out, as they phase out the older system.