Sarasota County officials stick with Airbus for $32 million radio system project

SARASOTA -- A procurement official is sticking with his original choice to design and build a joint $32 million emergency radio communications system for Sarasota and Manatee counties despite a formal complaint from another company.

Although unsuccessful bidder Motorola Solutions Inc. of Schaumburg, Ill., protested the process this month, which resulted in a recommendation to award a contract to Airbus DS Communications of Temecula, Calif., procurement official Edward Coyman concluded there was no basis to delay the recommendation.

"I find that your protest does not contain sufficient evidence to support your request for my office to rule in your favor based on 'material deficiencies and failure to follow process,'" wrote Coyman, who works for Sarasota County, in a ruling Friday.

He also defended the process used to choose the top company.

The new 800 MHz Emer

gency 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 Both counties' current equipment is obsolete.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 sought disqualification of Airbus.

A potential bidder, Harris Corp. of Irving, Texas, also complained "unnecessary barriers" in a flawed procurement process discouraged it from submitting a proposal. Coyman wrote that Airbus' references, which had been questioned in Motorola's letter, had been verified within two hours of the first evaluation committee meeting.

He found Motorola's complaints about scoring and ranking of proposals and "misleading" methods of calculating maintenance costs over the life of the Airbus contract to be baseless, he wrote.

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. "Airbus DS Communications is pleased to be recommended for award to provide a completely open, multivendor, standards-compliant P-25 radio system for Sarasota and Manatee counties," wrote Flynn Nogueira, director of marketing for Airbus.

Steve Gorecki, Motorola's director of media relations, said: "Motorola Solutions just learned of the protest decision (Friday), and have not have a chance to completely review the decision. Due to the ongoing procurement and protest process, we cannot comment further at this time."

However, he said the company has deployed hundreds of similar standard-spaced communications systems around the world.

"We are confident that our solution could provide the value and mission critical efficiency expected by Sarasota and Manatee counties and the taxpayers they serve," he said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.