Mayor’s marketing firm cited in Auditor General’s audit of Okaloosa TDC


The Auditor General cited the two advertising firms in its findings, which were released yesterday:

Finding No. 7
The County did not consistently follow prescribeed policies and procedures relating to the competitive procurement of goods and services, including the selection of two advertising and marketing firms.

Finding No. 8:
The County negotiated and entered into contracts that did not contain adequate provisions
to effectively protect the County’s interests.

Finding No. 9:
The County did not perform an adequate review or pre-audit of invoices submitted by two advertising and marketing firms, including a comparison of payment requests to the provisions of contracts. As a result, the County paid two advertising and marketing firms $12.1 million without obtaining adequate documentation supporting the goods or services received, including payments of several invoices that incorrectly or inadequately described the actual goods or services purchased.

Finding No. 10:
The County did not ensure that goods or services acquired through two advertising and marketing firms were competitively procured.

Finding No. 11:
The County paid for certain goods and services in advance of their receipt, including certain goods and services acquired through two advertising and marketing firms, contrary to law and the State Constitution. Some services for which the County paid in advance were not subsequently provided.

Finding No. 12:
The County did not consistently follow prescribed policies and procedures relating to the approval of purchases, including purchases made through two advertising and marketing firms.

Read report-24 Auditor General


While Mayor Hayward was turning over the city’s marketing to Zimmerman and paying them over a million dollars a year, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners were terminating its relationship with the firm.

When the commissioners rated the firm low in the RFP selection process, The Zimmerman Agency protested and said that the commissioners had incorrectly believed that the firm represented the city of Pensacola and Visit Pensacola outside of the Pensacola area.

Curtis Zimmerman, president of The Zimmerman Agency, wrote last October a viewpoint in the Northwest Florida Daily News, titled “Zimmerman Agency: We just want a fair chance.”

Zimmerman wrote, “The Zimmerman Agency does not represent Visit Pensacola. We do work for the city of Pensacola. We do ads about city services targeted to residents and business in Pensacola.”

The viewpoint was in direct conflict with Carrie Zimmerman’s statements to the Pensacola City Council the prior month. She outlined the firm’s primary objective of luring businesses that are looking to relocate. They described Pensacola as a “small town that has a big future,” a “blank slate” that needs to position itself to “capture a larger share of the future.”

In October, Mayor Hayward hired Tamara Fountain as a consultant for $60,000. City spokesman Derek Cosson told the Independent News reporter Jeremy Morrison that one of her duties is to manage The Zimmerman Agency.

It was State Sen. Don Gaetz and his son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, who requested the Auditor General to audit the TDC. Florida Auditor General’s Office will make a presentation on the findings of its audit to the Northwest Florida’s legislative delegation on Jan. 30 fro 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Niceville City Hall.