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State Probe Finds Most Partners With Excess Pay Contracted To Department of Children and Families

Photo: Nandhu Kumar

Of the 800 private firms contracted with the state, 12 are giving out salaries in excess of state and federal law. Nine of those are contracted with the Florida Department of Children and Families.

A state probe into pay issues at partner agencies began last year after investigations found the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence paid its leader more than $7.5 million over three years. House Ethics Chairwoman Erin Grall believes some private affiliates may still be hiding their compensation reports.

“Clearly there is much more work to do to stop the excess compensation of Florida’s private sector service partners.”

Among those on the hot-seat: Big Bend Community Based Care CEO Mike Watkins. The state audit found he’s paid nearly 578,000 dollars for his work, more than 370,000 over state and federal limits.

Watkins’ salary was previously cited as excessive in a January 2019 state audit. The Florida Department of Children and Families wants more leeway in overseeing its partners.

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