Fulton Co., GA: denies new 911 radio bid: Concerned over sole bidder

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scseh

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Fulton denies new 911 radio bid: Concerned over sole bidder
By Jonathan Copsey

April 23, 2013
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. – At its recess meeting April 17, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to deny the $21 million proposal for the emergency communications E-911 radio system upgrade with Motorola Solutions.

Original Story URL: NorthFulton.com | Fulton denies new 911 radio bid: Concerned over sole bidder
 
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dcr_inc

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For once, a responsible government decision .. DOING THE RIGHT THING, IS ALWAYS THE RIGHT THING.
 

jim202

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As long as the radio vendors are bared from being involved in writing the bid specs, you might have a chance to get competitive bids to come back. The main problem is to keep out all the little buzz words of the proprietary features that Motorola loves to make sure the bid contains.

Another area of trying to limit the bid is to have dimension limitations on such things as the spacing and size of the radio knobs on the portable radios. This is a great area to limit the competition.

Sounds like the county may just have someone willing to stand up face to face with Motorola and say we are not going to do it your way. I just hope they have a good radio engineer in the background that the county can use to evaluate the bid specs and then go over vendor submissions.

It is easy to lay down a smoke screen when it comes to coverage requirements. Most public safety people involved with trying to purchase a new radio system have no idea how to handle this part of the system. It is also where you will sink a good portion of the total cost of a new system. Screw it up and you have a poor performing system when your done. Just changing a couple of words in the bid spec will cause major problems in the outcome of what the county ends up with.
 

wa8pyr

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Sounds like the county may just have someone willing to stand up face to face with Motorola and say we are not going to do it your way. I just hope they have a good radio engineer in the background that the county can use to evaluate the bid specs and then go over vendor submissions.
If the existing system is a Motorola system, trade-in value on the old stuff can be offered when the purchase is an upgrade rather than a new system purchase. By going with another vendor, that trade-in value is lost.
 

jim202

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If the existing system is a Motorola system, trade-in value on the old stuff can be offered when the purchase is an upgrade rather than a new system purchase. By going with another vendor, that trade-in value is lost.

What sort of a trade in do you expect the county can get on it's old equipment? Please let the rest of us in on just what each component will bring back to the county as a trade.
 

MTS2000des

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If the existing system is a Motorola system, trade-in value on the old stuff can be offered when the purchase is an upgrade rather than a new system purchase. By going with another vendor, that trade-in value is lost.
the current system went online in November of 1989. It was originally a Smartnet I, then uplifted to a Smartnet IIi then Smartnet II system. Any "trade in" value is for the network core, which most of it is so old it's practically dumpster ready.

Motorola tried to pull a fast one, as usual. And it bit them. We aren't made of money, and with the snobby north county cities choosing to be "separate but equal", the county has to make their dollars go as far as possible. We aren't exactly rolling in money like some parts of the country.

Allow Harris, Cassidian, and EF Johnson a crack. After all, the RFP is for infrastructure only, unlike most of the other counties/cities around here: Fulton did it right, and phased out their older analog subscriber radios over the last decade. All of the newer analogs like the MTS2000 portables have been re-issued to public works, school security, etc- while public safety have upgraded to phase I digital capable XTS2500 and XTS5000's- most of those were either paid for with SAFECOM grants and re-banding money (there were still many STX821, analog Spectras and Synotr X subscriber radios in use pre-rebanding).

They only are wanting to replace their dated proprietary analog trunking system with a current phase 1 with phase 2 migration P25 network. And use their current supposedly P25 phase 1 subscriber radios on it (eventually phasing them out and replacing them with phase 2 radios as needed). This is the SMART MIGRATION to digital!


The public wins when there is a fair, open and unfettered RFP process. Fulton county isn't as incompetent as many people claim- and yes, I know personally two of the people spearheading this project, and they aren't dummies who blindly follow Solutions salesman for tea time for a golf course deal.
 
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quarterwave

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When I was in the business, many times the agency wanted M, but had to bid of course, so they let the M guy write the spec around something no one else could or would do, at least at any profit to them, but M could do.

On one hand it can be a bad deal, not "fair" to others and lead people to think the "sole" vendor can ask whatever price they want and make out. On the other hand, people do have to consider that if another vendor got a bid for an upgrade or additions to a system, but they sold, let's say GE back in the day....well, then the agency and the taxpayers may actually spend more in the long tun because they have to rig and jig the stuff up to work, the agency wastes more time "working" with the new vendor on it, and there can be a lot of hassles. Now, a whole new system top to bottom, that's not as much of an issue.

I see where Tom is going, but I have to say most of what I see is, that if you intend to get trade in, they just jack up the asking price and show a discount to make them think there is a deal. (Like your local Sharkey Ed's Use Car Emporium).

In the end, the citizen in me wants to see a competitive bid, but also wants to see assurances that the vendor knows what they are doing and it does not end up in cost over-runs.
 

greenthumb

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If the existing system is a Motorola system, trade-in value on the old stuff can be offered when the purchase is an upgrade rather than a new system purchase. By going with another vendor, that trade-in value is lost.
You know that Motorola's "trade in" discounts are only a few percentage points, Tom :) Another vendor can definitely provide a cost-competitive bid given the same system design.

This is definitely an issue, and the board did the right thing here.
 
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DaveNF2G

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The whole point of P25 was so that any vendor could build a system that would work with any other vendor's equipment. Sounds like Fulton County is holding the industry to that ideal. Good for them!
 

wa8pyr

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What sort of a trade in do you expect the county can get on it's old equipment? Please let the rest of us in on just what each component will bring back to the county as a trade.
Depends on the earlier system type and equipment available for trade-in. Older systems can bring more value for their components, which would be used as replacement parts for systems still online.

It's all in how the county would negotiate it. However, trade-in value isn't the only consideration, it's just one consideration that would likely be lost by going to another vendor. In the end it's important to do the due-diligence, and the county is going to be spending a pretty penny no matter which vendor they choose.
 

studgeman

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As someone who writes RFPs for radio systems, there is no reason to restrict the bidding, and there is nothing wrong about asking for trade in value for old equipment in the process. If someone has their heart on a particular vendor, there are plenty of legit was to do that and still have an open process. Remember system contracts are awarded on best value. Best value doesn't mean cheapest.

On one particular project I advised on we rejected an equipment vendor because that were proposing future equipment and they had not successfully installed a similar system of the same type, and the ones they had installed had serious functional issues.

There is no legit reason to try and game the system
 

KAA951

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Cassidian vs Motorola

In the bidding of the system in Topeka / Shawnee County the entry of Cassidian into the mix made Motorola drop their system price by nearly $6 million to get the contract. This wasn't a pairing back on specs- it was a downright bidding war.

Even though Cassidian didn't end up with the bid, they cost M $6 million in profit!
 

jim202

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Depends on the earlier system type and equipment available for trade-in. Older systems can bring more value for their components, which would be used as replacement parts for systems still online.

I guess you don't understand how Motorola functions with older equipment. They don't support it once it has reached their advanced (shortened) end of life date. No support, zilch, nothing. The warehouse is vacuumed clean to make room for the new products. They want their customers to drop what they are using and buy the new, more expensive, current product.

A prime example of this is the Spectra and Astro Spectra family of radios and accessories. Take the W9 or 9000 series control heads as some call them. The parts are the same, but they assigned new part numbers to many of the components. The front faceplate is the same except it now has Astro in blue letters on it. You want replacement buttons for the control heads, just order the Astro numbers. Look at many of the circuit boards in the radio. They look and seem to be the same as the Spectra. Just different part numbers on the circuit boards.

Motorola is there to make as much money for the least amount of effort. It doesn't surprise me that they have 6 mill of fat in a system bid. They have just got too greedy and ignore customer support these days. Their hay day is slowly coming down with their current business model. Time will tell if they continue to ignore their customers and push them to other vendors.
 
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