Motorola protests Manatee bid process for $32M radio system

MANATEE -- An unsuccessful bidder on a $32 million contract for a new emergency radio system, to be jointly designed and built by Manatee and Sarasota counties, has filed a formal complaint asking the successful bidder be disqualified.

The new 800 MHz Emergency Communications System will improve how law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first-responders communicate during emergencies. Both counties' current equipment is obsolete.

In an Oct. 12 letter, Motorola Solutions Inc. of Schaumburg, Ill., submitted a formal protest to Sarasota procurement official Ted Coyman Jr. asking him to disqualify Airbus DS Communications of Temecula, Calif., which was awarded the contract this month.

"During the evaluation committee meeting held on Sept. 23, it was publicly stated that Airbus had deficiencies in its required references, and a question was publicly posed by the Sarasota County procurement officer as to whether their response should therefore on its face be deemed materially deficient," said the letter signed by attorneys Robert Robinson and William Robertson. "The decision was made to overlook this insufficiency."

The company also claimed other deficiencies, such as in scoring and ranking of proposals, and "misleading" methods of calculating maintenance costs over the life of the Airbus contract.

"Motorola Solutions has deployed hundreds of similar standards-based communications systems around the world, and we are confident that our solution provides the value and mission-critical efficiency expected by Sarasota and Manatee counties and the taxpayers they serve," said a statement issued Wednesday by Steve Gorecki, Motorola Solutions spokesman.

Sarasota County officials plan to respond later this week, said spokesman Jason Bartolone.

Another bidder, Harris Corp. of Irving, Texas, also wrote a letter complaining "unnecessary barriers" posed by a flawed procurement process discouraged it from submitting a proposal.

Manatee officials have worked closely with Sarasota on replacing their respective radio systems, but Sarasota County officials have been in charge of procurement, said Nick Azzara, Manatee County information outreach manager.Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitternote>