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Rockdale County, Georgia desires to update its public-safety radio system and is about to become yet another poster child for a project that will under-perform and cost much more than budgeted.  Basic rules for successful procurement and project implementation are being skirted, starting with a RFP that calls for an “upgrade” of an old analog radio system.  This effectively precludes competition from other qualified bidders. It’s like buying a new telephone system and requiring that it be capable of working with proprietary, antiquated rotary-dial telephone instruments.

The RFP clearly states that the proposed system price must not exceed the designated budget of $4,500,00.  This will limit any vendor from proposing a solution that could honestly meet the County’s requirement, resulting in a situation where very expensive additional infrastructure equipment will be essential.  Once the initial contract is awarded, the County will have no choice but to sole-source millions of dollars in additional equipment and services.  This allows the preferred vendor to have total control over predatory pricing for the life of the radio new system.

Is Rockdale County another example of a government entity succumbing to Motorola marketing its products through political influence, or is the Rockdale County staff assigned to this project merely inept?

One example of a deficiency in the RFP is an ambiguous reference to 95% coverage on portable radios inside vehicles, but omits any requirement for in-building coverage.  Bizarre.  Is it the County’s intention to not use permanently installed mobile radios?  One of the most critical coverage requirements for a public safety radio system is reliable two-way communication with dispatchers and other field units from within buildings.  Without this specification, the County has no assurance that police officers and firefighters will be able to reliably coordinate activities and summon potentially life-saving assistance.

The Rockdale County RFP is presented below. Let’s follow this project over the next few years and see how much it actually costs, and if performance problems are reported.