County details how Motorola won E-911 contract

2014-02-23T20:00:00Z 2014-02-24T12:15:22Z County details how Motorola won E-911 contractBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
February 23, 2014 8:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Lake County officials have released a report detailing why they chose Motorola Solutions, of Schaumburg, to provide $13 million in E-911 radio gear even though it wasn't the lowest apparent bidder.

Motorola, Harris Corp., of Lynchburg, Va., and Cassidian Communications, of Richardson, Texas, submitted bids Jan. 22 to supply public safety officials with an interoperable 700 megahertz P25 Trunked Voice digital radio system.

It is expected to more efficiently link 17 police and fire departments communications in a single countywide communications network.

Mike Mazzitello, the county's technical consultant, and a group of local police and fire officials, known as the technical subcommittee of the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission, spent nearly a month crunching the numbers and claims.

They concluded their work with a report they made public last week giving Motorola a score of 95 out of a possible 100 points, Harris 79.5 points and Cassidian 65.5 points.

E-911 Director Brian Hitchcock said 25 percent of the vendors' scores involved the cost of their systems.

The county's pricing summary indicates Motorola's core system will cost $8.44 million, some 20 back-up telephone dispatch consoles will cost $1.32 million, spare parts will be $65,650 and eight years of maintenance contracts add another $3.18 million.

Motorola's grand total was a little over $13 million. Harris' prices added up to $11.23 million and Cassidian's was $13.41 million.

Mike Ryan, local sales manager for Harris, said he couldn't understand how he lost with such a low bid.

The report stated Harris' system would need significant changes "to meet the technical requirements, making the 'final' cost of the bid potentially higher than Motorola's," according to the report.

The advisers concluded each of the three bidders were "an established firm with solid financial resources," had good customer references and were prepared to have their systems up and running under the county's proposed deadline.

They found Motorola and Harris both provided complete and highly detailed explanations of how their systems worked and each used a well-known microwave vendor for the heart of their communications systems.

However, they bluntly state, "Cassidian's proposal was the least thorough of the three received," and "were the least experienced, lowest qualified and the most expensive proposal received."

The advisers stated Harris' pricing didn't conform with the specifications because it included prices for mobile radios to be worn by police officers and firefighters, even though the county isn't shopping for these at this time.

They said the Harris radio and paging system didn't comply with the county specifications, including a demand it penetrate dense building materials, so police or firefighters can communication with those outside in case of emergency.

County advisers questioned Harris' ability to promptly service its equipment because it has no local service shops while Motorola has two such shops in the county.

Harris promised to have qualified technicians respond within two hours as the county specifications required, but county advisers noted it was unclear how much that service would cost outside of regular business hours.

The report did give Harris' equipment high marks for having a potentially longer life cycle than Motorola's. Harris also would have given the county free maintenance for the first two years.

They said Motorola's system would need one fewer microwave tower than Harris' and the locations of Motorola's tower sites all conformed with the county's list of approved sites. It said Motorola had sold the most systems of any vendor in the United States.

The Motorola radio infrastructure contract constitutes the largest capital expense to get a countywide E-911 system up and running, but county officials warn they will have E-911 costs, including construction that could push the final cost of its proposed service as high as $21 million.

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