The most common technologies and services procured across states and localities in August were security systems, surveillance, CCTV and other camera systems and fire alarm and alerting systems. The word cloud below provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.
- Security System: 20 solicitations
- Surveillance and Camera systems: 12 solicitations
- Fire Alarm or Alerting Systems: 12 solicitations
After a slow spring and early summer, there was a significant increase in the number of solicitations released for justice and public safety technologies in August. Despite the large influx of RFPs, there were very few technological trends across the states. Solicitations ran the gamut from Florida’s RFP for an automated fingerprint-based applicant processing system, Spotsylvania County, Virginia’s RFP for a new 800MHz radio system, to Los Angeles County’s offender monitoring system RFP.
Several radio system and consultant solicitations were also released, though this was expected given the looming narrowbanding deadline. Arkansas’ Garland County and the city of Hot Springs released a rebid request for qualifications (RFQ) for a public safety radio communications system needs assessment after the original solicitation was canceled. Hot Springs was not the only location to release and then cancel a solicitation for a radio-related project. The Colorado Department of Public Safety released a solicitation for narrowband base station parts that was canceled on August 13 due to inadequate and ambiguous specifications. At this point, the state plans to release a new solicitation or possibly use a statewide price agreement to procure the products.
Many of the other solicitations in August seemed to be related to courts and corrections technologies. Despite the fact that Los Angeles County’s offender management system project moved forward, WSCA’s electronic monitoring and GPS project spent another month on hold as the original solicitation released in April is still being redrafted. Solano County, Calif., released a solicitation for its inmate telephone system. Massachusetts made a decision to rebid its own statewide inmate telephone system, and hopes to release a solicitation in October.
The budget cycle that began July 1, 2012, seems to have spurred departments to make decisions on all sorts of projects. In some cases, decisions were made to cancel projects; while in other cases, decisions were made to perform the work in house. After releasing a request for information (RFI), many purchasing entities decided to create systems in house, either due to the prohibitive costs of purchasing an outside system or because it was determined that no single vendor could provide the required solution.
New York state decided to use a prescription drug monitoring program system developed in house rather than releasing a solicitation, and Delaware is leaning toward moving its laboratory information management system in house as well after results of an RFI were not what the state was hoping for. Still, other counties and states made the decision to sole source their projects like Kentucky did with its AFIS project after determining that only the current vendor would be able to provide a system that would work with the state’s outdated backend system, which cannot be updated due to budget constraints.
As things begin to move forward again, it would behoove vendors to check in on projects that may have been put on hold until this new budget cycle. As always, contacting the using departments at the earliest point possible will benefit vendors who can show interest in the project and share their expertise.
With the narrowbanding deadline moving closer, states and localities are under extreme pressure to develop working systems or, at the very least, a plan in the next few months. In some cases, it seems as though this has caused some municipalities to jump the gun and release solicitations for projects before they are fully ready. Kentucky experienced problems with its next generation 911 system solicitation, and after receiving two non-responsive proposals, was forced to cancel the solicitation. The state is currently reevaluating the project.
It is important for purchasing offices to work closely with the using departments to ensure that the final solicitation covers all necessary requirements and clearly explains what the locality is seeking from vendors. Likewise, vendors should take every advantage when they know about a project prior to a solicitation release to work with and assist purchasing departments in determining specifications. They should also use the question and answer period to ensure that they not only meet all of the technical requirements, but that they understand the bureaucratic requirements as well.