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Florida TaxWatch Awards State Agencies For Innovations That Save Taxpayers Money

The nonprofit Florida TaxWatch is recognizing state agencies for innovative programs and technologies that also saved taxpayers money, and provided a lifeline for some during the pandemic.

In March, as coronavirus cases climbed and health officials warned residents —especially those 65 and older — to stay home, some seniors started to wonder how they’d get their dinner. That’s when the Florida Department of Elder Affairs joined forces with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Restaurant and Lodging Association to deliver fresh meals to elders and adults with disabilities.

Rebecca Roberts is communications director for the Department of Elder Affairs.

“Not only did it meet the needs of getting the food to the people, of getting those unmet needs of nutritious meals delivered,” Roberts said during a virtual ceremony Thursday. “It also ended up helping break social isolation. Because for some of these people, we would hear from residents … it was the only contact they had had in months.”

Roberts says more than 3 million meals have been delivered to Floridians’ doorsteps through the program, which earned top honors Thursday in Taxwatch’s Quality of Life category

Another agency that garnered TaxWatch’s recognition is the Florida Department of Transportation. It received the top award in Innovative Use of Technology, for developing a system that can alert first responders to vehicles driving against traffic.

Hossam Abdel All was part of the DOT team that designed the system, which used existing highway infrastructure to implement the potentially life-saving feature.

“It presents a unique concept in that we didn’t need to deploy any new devices or procure any new software,” Hossam said of the project. “We used what we have, and that was where we really saw the innovation.”

The government watchdog’s CEO, Dominic Calabro, says those innovations come with a big savings for taxpayers.

“The cost-effectiveness, efficiencies, cost avoidance created by you employees, you workers, innovative leaders in our state. TaxWatch productivity award-winners this year will save the taxpayers of Florida more than $300 million,” Calabro said.

The TaxWatch Productivity Awards are spread across 19 state agencies and four universities.

It’s four main categories include the best in agency-wide initiatives, innovative use of technology, quality of life improvements and advances in delivering services.

The full list of Productivity Award winners can be found here.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit .

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.
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