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DCF official resigns amid contract review

By Associated Press
Published October 20, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - A deputy secretary at the Department of Children and Families resigned Tuesday, another casualty of an investigation into how the agency contracted some of its social service programs to outside vendors.

Questions about how the agency awarded contracts to university and private contractors this year led to the resignation of Secretary Jerry Regier.

Celeste Putnam, deputy secretary for substance abuse and mental health, resigned Tuesday. She could not be reached for comment.

DCF officials said Putnam left "as a result of" a department review of a contract for a pilot mental health program that was awarded to a research center at Florida State University. The contract was given to the Institute of Health and Human Services Research at FSU for a "self-directed care" program, where mental health patients are able to manage their own treatment within certain guidelines.

The review found DCF didn't properly oversee the contract.

The review cited $30,500 for "consultation and management" that went to the institute director, Dr. James Bax, and his assistant. Bax, a former head of the state's social services agency, said the university received a 5 percent overhead on the contracts, which accounted for the $30,500 in the review.

DCF's review also cited "numerous examples of purchases that are not traditionally part of a mental health treatment system," including payments to a tanning and nail salon.

[Last modified October 20, 2004, 00:16:16]

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