Today, Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater released the following statement, announcing that a settlement has been reached between the state and Peter Brown Construction and Signature Art Gallery, involving the procurement of artwork for state buildings begun under the previous administration:
Gov. Scott said, “Our most important goal is to protect taxpayer dollars to best meet the needs of Florida families. It was right to ask for a rigorous and thorough review of the tax dollars committed to this project. With the leadership of DMS Secretary Craig Nichols, both the CFO’s office and DMS have reached an end to the expensive and lengthy litigation surrounding this case. CFO Atwater and I agree that the settlement will best safeguard taxpayer money while also signaling to all Floridians that our contracting system must be cost-effective, accountable, and transparent.”
“From the outset of this long and painful process,” CFO Atwater said, “this office has maintained that the expenditures of precious tax dollars must be guided by the appropriation authority of the Legislature, and that the decisions of the Department of Management Services under the prior administration cannot be condoned. I am pleased that the Governor and the secretary of DMS share our collective responsibility to carefully safeguard state expenditures. I share in their commitment to guarantee that such excesses will not be repeated. With this settlement, the parties now agree that it is appropriate for the Legislature to determine the legitimacy of the payment request.”
Shortly after taking office, CFO Atwater and his auditors were able to resolve outstanding invoices except for those pertaining to the artwork/framed photographs. Auditors determined, and an independent hearing officer concurred, that the artwork/framed photographs were not allowable fixed-capital expenditures and the CFO had no authority to pay the invoices.
Under the settlement, which must be approved by the Legislative Budget Commission, the state will pay the outstanding amount of $392,658.56, plus $122,224.14 for litigation and other costs. The artwork involved in the settlement will then go to the Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs.