On Wednesday night, the Mayor and City Commissioners may vote to hand over an $8 million dollar contract to a single vendor without opening up the bidding process.
By: Seth Platt – LSN Partners
A year ago the Palm Beach Office of the Inspector General released a report critical of the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners for the sole source purchase for radio system replacement from Motorola on the recommendation from their consultant RCC Consultants. Now Coral Springs stands ready to make this same mistake on the advice of the same consultant who has not heeded the warning of the PB OIG. On Wednesday Coral Springs is poised to vote to waive its procurement code and award a sole source contract to Motorola for a P25 radio system at a price of $8,732,900. Broward County is also preparing to replace its aging system with a consolidated County-wide P25 system which would make Coral Springs’ purchase not only duplicative, but without open market competition.
The PB OIG stated in its report:
Sound government procurement practices encourage the award of new contracts generally every five years, with some exceptions, through “full and open” competition. The 2000 Model Procurement Code by the American Bar Association states “Fair and open competition is a basic tenet of public procurement. Such competition reduces the opportunity for favoritism and inspires public confidence that contracts are awarded equitably and economically.”
Other vendors have expressed an interest to compete for this contract, and have demonstrated capabilities and competitive rates when able to provide competitive proposals to municipalities. Such was the case in Fort Lauderdale when they were considering their own P25 system. Motorola came in at the highest price in Fort Lauderdale; however, the City determined it was in the best interest of the taxpayers not to duplicate the County P25 system.
So why is Coral Springs moving forward without providing a competitive process to ensure the best value proposition for City taxpayers? The City’s consultant (also a former Motorola employee) has advised them a procurement is not necessary and that other vendors cannot provide the same level of capabilities as Motorola, yet the consultant has never met with the competing vendors to get a proposal from them. Resources, capabilities, cost, and experience should be evaluated by a non-biased committee through a competitive procurement process as outlined by City Codes and State law. Consultants who advise their clients to skirt laws that are designed to uphold the integrity of the government and ensure fiduciary responsibility and safety of its citizens are not doing their clients or the taxpayers a just service.
The City Commission should provide fair competition for all purchases made with taxpayer dollars and properly bid this system, or follow the lead of the County and join the regional system.
Seth Platt represents Harris Communications, an international communications and information technology company headquartered in Florida, serving government and commercial markets in more than 125 countries.