Amid SunPass Billing Headache, State Rep. Kionee McGhee Wants Answers From FDOT

Jul 31, 2018

Pressure is growing against the private company in charge of handling SunPass fees and millions of Floridians are facing major headaches with the toll system's billing.

Conduent State & Local Solutions, the company SunPass contracts for payment processing, has been experiencing technical problems since June. Thousands of SunPass customers have received inaccurate bills and some have even been double-billed.

We asked listeners if they’ve had problems with SunPass. Here are some of their responses:

On Monday, Senator Bill Nelson called for a federal investigation into Conduent. Last week, Democratic State Representative Kionne McGhee, of Florida’s 117th District, and Florida House Democrats called on the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to suspend SunPass tolling. McGhee also called for an independent audit of FDOTs dealings with Conduent.

He joined Sundial. 

Here's an excerpt:

WLRN: Have you heard from the governor's office on what he might do on this [problem]?

McGhee: The reality of it is that there have been many legislators who have written to the governor asking for some sort of relief for our Floridians here and unfortunately we haven't gotten a response from the governor.

When were you made aware of the complications surrounding SunPass and the collection agency company Conduent?

We found out when you all found out. FDOT chose to keep this in the dark. They chose not to send out letters to those who have been affected. What they decided to do based upon the conversation we had with the undersecretary here in this region, is that they decided to send out information to e-mail addresses basically saying, "Hey if you have a question about your tolls please go to our webite."

But let's be honest Luis, if we want to have an honest conversation... the easiest thing would have been to simply come to you all, go to a radio station, send out a letter to the last best known address of their customers, and simply say, "Hey, we have an issue with our SunPass system. You may have been affected. Please call this number to verify whether or not you are a victim."

FDOT was aware of complications that Conduent has had in the past in billing with other states. Do we know why they were still given the contract?

That's the million dollar question and I guess that's the "gorilla in the room." Let's be honest, at the end of the day what politics have become is a game of power, money and access. I can't speculate as to why they were given the actual contract but what I can tell you is that power, access and money equate to something that's more powerful.

Tell us your experience in dealing with the Florida Department of Transportation. I hear different things from different people but it almost feels like, and again I'm just going on what I'm hearing, that it's this whole other world that almost operates on its own. What's your experience dealing with them?

Well it's a beast. And when you're dealing with a beast you don't know what you're getting at that particular time and that particular day. You know a beast ... has been known to be viewed as something that is out of the ordinary, something that's not productive, something that's brought about to destroy it and create havoc. In this situation what we're seeing is we can't get any fair answers out of FDOT. Legislators can't get straight answers out of FDOT. Constituents can't get straight answers out of FDOT. So it confirms what we've already known. Yes, there are some great people within the system who want to see the system work but unfortunately new leadership needs to be had in order for that time to be realized.

You've asked for an independent auditing committee to investigate FDOT.

The committee is simple. We have a bipartisan approach within the Department of Financial Services. We're asking -- we don't care about politics, we don't care about views -- the only thing we care about are the facts. So if we have Republicans, Democrats, Independents and folk who are from the community on this particular committee that committee in and of itself will be a representative committee of the community to find out what are the true facts. What did FDOT know? When did they find out? Why did they fail to notify the people here in the state of Florida that there is a major issue with this problem, with this vendor? We honestly believe there are some issues here that need some form of investigatory analysis done in order to bring the light out to the people.