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Politics

Barry Gilway: Citizens Will Implement Travel, Expense Changes

February 14, 2013 - 6:00pm

As part of the final report into the rampant travel spending at Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the president of the state-backed provider reiterated that employees have been advised to follow travel guidelines that are in place by Floridas other state agencies.

Since joining Citizens, I have stated many times that Citizens has a responsibility to hold itself to the highest levels of financial and ethical integrity, Citizens President Barry Gilway wrote Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel on Feb. 13.

Adopting the Office of Inspector Generals recommended changes to our expense policies and procedures is a concrete way Citizens can demonstrate to our policyholders and the people of Florida our commitment to making good on that pledge.

The governors office released the updated report and recommendations from Miguel on Friday that included Gilways response.

Gov. Rick Scott had ordered Miguel in September to review reports of excessive travel spending inside Citizens.

Scott called for immediate reform within Citizens on Jan. 17, when the audit was first released.

The audit found travel expenses rules at Citizens ambiguous and lacking internal control, as media reports had claimed last summer.

In addition to adhering to state government travel rules, Scott sought to prohibit international travel, only allow essential employees to travel for board meetings and establish its own inspector general to enforce the rules.

Any egregious expenses, unethical behavior, or violation of the law must be grounds for dismissal, Scott stated last month. A company this large, supported by hard-working Florida families, must be held to the highest standards of integrity.

The report found that between Jan. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2012, Citizens compiled more than $1.3 million in travel-related expenses, of which $454,111 was related to auto travel, $163,625 to airfare and $441,746 for hotel accommodations. Another $138,320 was for meals and $107,751 was billed under room fees.

Gilway, hired in June, started to implement some of the travel rule changes last October.

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, has filed Senate Bill 386, with a companion by Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, House Bill 433, to fulfill Scotts proposal to have an inspector general position created to oversee Citizens.

Gilway has supported Abruzzos bill.

Neither bill has been advanced so far through the legislative committee process.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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