Florida official spent $391K on office furniture: report
A former Florida state lawmaker who was appointed to lead the state's new cybersecurity office last year is now facing scrutiny for the funds he spent remodeling the office.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, Jamie Grant, appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to head of the Florida Digital Service Department despite his lack of experience, reportedly spent more nearly $600,000 on office renovations.
The breakdown of cost includes: $391,980 for new office furniture, $144,705 to remove and install new carpet, and an additional $85,042 was spent to "outfit the office with a dozen 86-inch 4K interactive touch monitors."
Per Tampa Bay Times: "The furniture came from a Jacksonville vendor, Perdue, and included dozens of tables, over 100 chairs, nearly 90 stools, as well as lounge chairs, splashbacks, a lectern, and other accessories. The dozen 86-inch touchscreen monitors came from Dell at $ 5,426 apiece, with caster stands at $ 1,342 each."
Just one month after Grant's office renovation, Todd Inman —a former Trump administration official and Florida's newly-appointed secretary for the Department of Management Services— placed a cap on spending, decreasing budgets from $1 million to $100,000.
In a statement released on Friday, December 10, the department claimed the office redesign was intended to “increase the amount of workspace, facilitate interagency initiatives and develop spaces for collaboration.”
Rose Hebert, the department spokesperson, also defended the department's remodel saying, The Florida Digital Service “is constantly working with multiple agencies and stakeholders, which requires a single, flexible and collaborative workspace."
Hebert also insisted that Inman's newly-imposed stipulation was not a result of Grant's spending but rather “an effort to familiarize himself with the agency’s spending as the new agency head.”
However, lawmakers have also scrutinized Grant for the funding that he didn't spend: $30 million designated for "cybersecurity funding he requested from the Legislature in March. It includes millions for training, threat assessments, infrastructure strengthening, and software."
“Departures and vacancies are having a very clear impact on Florida Digital Service’s ability to fulfill its mission,” State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando said in September. “All Floridians need him to be successful because the issue of cybersecurity and data protection for Floridians is of the utmost importance.”