TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two for-profit prison companies were allowed to overbill Florida by nearly $13 million and even rebated some money to cover salaries and expenses for the agency policing their contracts, according to a new state audit.
The review by the Department of Management Services said the defunct Correctional Privatization Commission put profits for politically connected companies ahead of the public interest, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported Monday.
"The commission consistently failed to safeguard the state's interests," Steve Rumph, the department's inspector general, wrote in his 52-page audit.
He said available records showed that the state "incurred about $12.7 million in additional costs."
The DMS, which now oversees private prisons, cited as examples that the commission paid Corrections Corp. of America and the GEO Group for guards who didn't exist at the five privately operated prisons.
Because the commission covered many "questionable and excessive costs," Rumph said there is no way of knowing whether the private prisons operate 7 percent more cheaply than state prisons, as the law requires.