Staff shake-up at state agency
DBPR has three new top deputies

Article Courtesy of The Tallahassee Democrat

Published November 2, 2005

There's some housecleaning going on at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Simone Marstiller, who has been the agency secretary since August, has replaced all three top deputies, the top attorney and the chief agency lobbyist. All of the new employees start this month.

Marstiller is Gov. Jeb Bush's fourth secretary of the agency that licenses and oversees 1.6 million businesses and professionals, from Realtors, cosmetologists and veterinarians to hotels, restaurants, mobile homes and condominiums.

The regulatory agency has had its share of problems. But state Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Crystal River, who heads the Senate Governmental Oversight Committee, worries Marstiller may be removing too many good people in hopes of fixing those problems.

One of the most troublesome innovations was a new automated licensing system done under a $62million contract with technology giant Accenture. The new system, accessed online and through automated telephone calls, has had problems. Some callers have had to endure long waits to get questions answered.

There were 159 full-time state jobs lost as a result of the project, leaving 1,491 employees and a $152million budget.

Marstiller said it's typical for agency heads to make staff changes to better accomplish their goals. She characterized the shift as in keeping with the governor's directive "to continually improve the way we serve Florida citizens" and not an indication that anything is amiss at the agency.

"I think all of these folks are going to come in with fresh eyes," Marstiller said. "I've assembled a team I am really excited about. What I really want to do with the agency is improve our customer service because, at the end of the day, this is a customer-service agency."

Some improvements will be as simple as installing toll-free telephone numbers to make it easier for people checking on businesses to call Tallahassee, she said.

Argenziano said she continues to get complaints from constituents about delays getting licenses and having problems resolved. She wants the Legislature to take a good look at the agency to see whether there's a way to make its job less cumbersome.

"Real good people are being asked to leave," Argenziano said. "Probably in the future, we're going to get even more complaints."

The new management:

 Andy Edwards, formerly deputy secretary for professional regulation, becomes deputy secretary for business regulation, replacing Susan Cutchins, at a salary of $97,384.

 Dennis Yecke, former deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, becomes deputy secretary of professional regulation at a salary of $102,000.

 Julie Madden, former deputy secretary at the Department of Management Services, becomes deputy secretary of operations, replacing Michael Murphy, at a salary of $102,000.

 The new general counsel, Josefina Tamayo, was the general counsel for the Department of Children and Families. She replaces Leon Bieglaski. Her salary at DBPR is $109,500.

 John McBride, former legislative specialist for the agency, was promoted to director of legislative affairs, replacing Candace Jones, at a salary of $80,000.