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DOT Cuts Automatic Pay Increases for Contractors

Responding to concerns raised during session and a query from senators earlier this month, the State Department of Transportation has eliminated automatic salary increases on outsourced contracts.

In a letter to Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres and a Democratic candidate for attorney general, Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos said the agency has ended the practice of allowing private contracts to include automatic pay increases.

“I have instituted a statewide policy eliminating any salary modification terms on new contracts and new amendments to existing contracts,” Kopelousos said in a letter to Aronberg dated June 28th after he had questioned the practice.

The DOT head told Aronberg that the agency has renegotiated some contracts to remove salary increases from amounts that have yet to be paid to “reduce the extent and impact of salary modification terms that may be included in existing consultant contracts.”

The little noticed provision came to light during the last days of the 2009 session. As lawmakers debated pay cuts to state employees, Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson addressed the issue on the Senate floor, saying it was inappropriate for the state to give raises to private contractors at a time when it was freezing positions and hold salaries steady for state employees.

Aronberg said Thursday he followed up by requesting a thorough review of DOT contract practices. He also filed a formal open records request.

Since making the request July 13, Aronberg said officials in the governor’s office and the DOT, which has so far reviewed at least 2,000 contracts, contacted him. On Thursday he expressed his gratitude to the agency for responding so quickly and said he understands it will take some time before a more detailed review can be completed.

“It’s nice to see the work pays off,” Aronberg said of the agency’s actions. “They responded quickly and in the right way.”

The agency is expected to follow up with more detailed information on contract procedures and comparable salary data, a spokesman said. The process, however, may take several months.

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