RFP Bid Protest Can’t Stop $14.8 Million Emergency System Upgrade

The Flagler County government is working towards replacing its 14-year-old, obsolete emergency telecommunications system under a $14.8 million contract with Motorola Solutions, reported FlaglerLive.com. But the current provider, Communications International, is throwing a wrench in the plan.

The “retail” cost for the new system includes $8.8 million for five new and one replacement tower, plus services to the towers listed here:

  • A new 250-foot tower on a county parcel at Matanzas Woods Parkway near I-95. There’s already a higher tower there, but while the county thought it could take ownership of that tower, that proved unfeasible.
  • A new, 350-foot tower on a county property near Cody’s Corner at State Road 11.
  • A new 190-foot tower on a county property in Plantation Bay. (“We’re already anticipating some opposition from this,” Coffey, the county administrator, said. But because it’s a lower height, the tower will not have to be lit.)
  • A new 350-foot tower on a county property near the intersection of State Road 100 and County Road 305.
  • Replacement of the existing 250-foot tower at the county jail.
  • A new 160-foot tower off the east end of the Government Services Complex. 

In addition, the cost for portable two-way radios comes in around $5 million. The new system will achieve a 97 percent coverage rate and double user capacity, plus improve reliability and usability across agencies, according to the county.
Of the current system, County Administrator Craig Coffey said, “Although it served us very well we do have gaps in coverage and other issues as well that we’re trying to correct.”  

Communications International filed a protest when Motorola Solutions was chosen as a partner for the project after RFPs were submitted and reviewed. According to County Attorney Al Hadeed, the situation is “very unusual.”

The county administrator has 10 days to address the bid protest from the time it is filed, and, in the meantime, the project will move forward. Hadeed explained, “In this situation…there is heightened attention, especially from law enforcement, emergency management and the fire services, to upgrade and replace the system as soon as possible. While there is this critical need to push forward, the county likewise should accord the competing bidder an opportunity to continue its challenge to the procurement process, especially on such a large project. So that’s the catch-22.”

Regarding financing the project, Coffey said there will be two funding mechanisms, likely bank loans. One will pay for the backbone of the system and the other will cover the equipment. Coffey also noted that costs to residents will not increase, stating: “Taxpayers won’t see any difference related to this system.” Coffey’s plan is to have the new system in place by July 2019.

As for the protest, the commission voted unanimously to address the procurement process and the bid process simultaneously.

April 13, 2018

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