Dispute develops over awarding multi-million-dollar state radio communications contract

The state Department of General Services is in the process of awarding a new five-year contract, potentially worth millions of dollars, for all radio communications equipment and its maintenance, repairs, parts and accessories – and some of those considering bids are suggesting the deck is stacked in favor of one company.

Further from Richard Locker’s report:

The state’s procurement process flared briefly into controversy during a conference with potential bidders Sept. 4 when a vendor suggested the current contractor appeared to have drafted some of the procurement documents. The vendor made the assertion after clicking on the “properties” tab of a computer file among the documents given to vendors for review, which listed as its “author” the Tennessee sales representative for Motorola Solutions Inc., the current contractor. The conference ended as other vendors asked about the fairness of the process.

But spokesmen for Motorola and the state Department of General Services said the company had no role in drafting the documents and that the assertion was based on a misunderstanding.

…(S)ome potential vendors say only Motorola, the industry giant in public-service radio equipment, could qualify for several of the nine categories of radio equipment for which contracts will be awarded under the current draft requirements. The state plans to award a single contract for each category, and each category has sub-categories of radio equipment.

Some vendors have written to the department’s Central Procurement Office asking to consider multiple contracts for each category, which would allow more vendors to bid, increasing cost competition. Some vendors meet the specifications for some sub-categories but cannot bid on the full category because they don’t manufacture all the radios in all the sub-categories.

The General Services Department says it is considering that request.

Note: Motorola Soultions Inc. has provided $17,500 in corporate contributions during the 2013-14 election cycle to the Senate Republican Caucus, the House Republican Caucus and political action committees operated by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron. The company also operates a national PAC registered in Tennessee. It’s only Tennessee donation reported this cycle is $2,500 to Gov. Bill Haslam.