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Deltek Pulse: Justice/public safety and homeland security April review

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during April were fire alarm and alerting, camera/surveillance and radio. The below word cloud provides a visual interpretation of key term frequency.

  • Number of Public Safety Bids: 1,400
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (175), New York (95) and Pennsylvania (75)
  • Top three keywords:  fire alarm and alerting, camera/surveillance and radio

Frequency of terms:

  • Radio: 8 (4 state, 11 local)
  • 911: 1 (3 state, 1 local)
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (1 state, 3 local)
  • Records Management System (1 state, 2 local)

 

Like March, April was a slow month for justice and public safety (JPS) procurements; and while numerous solicitations were released, there seemed to be little movement on projects in the early development stages. Many governments are waiting on funding to move forward with projects, and agencies widely differ in their approaches to how much work they put into a project prior to securing funds.

While some states are hesitant to spend a lot of time planning and developing specifications for projects that may never receive funding, others like Georgia work to have a nearly completed plan in place so that a project can move forward quickly once funding is secured. Vendors should be aware of these different approaches and have patience with governments that are unwilling to spend large amounts of time consulting with vendors early on. 

Many governments further along in project planning took big steps in April by releasing RFPs or RFIs, many of which were large in scale. Waukesha County, Wis., released an RFP for a trunked radio system, while Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, released one for a new 911 system. These major projects, which have been in the works for several years, are likely to be among the most expensive these entities will undertake for some time.

Numerous entities also released solicitations for smaller projects, such as Cook County, Illinois’ inmate telephone audit and the Florida Department of Corrections’ inmate telephone system. Given the fact that inmate phone systems tend to be paid for by users rather than the government, these projects often require less lead time; therefore, vendors would be wise to contact project managers sooner than later to share their expertise before a solicitation is released.

Analyst’s Take

Vendors should gear up for a couple busy months as late spring and early summer tend to be extremely active for projects before the summer lull strikes in July and August, which tend to be slow due to vacations and scrambles to cover holidaying colleagues. For entities with July budgets, these months also act as planning weeks when solicitations and projects are worked on behind the scenes as agencies decide what to do with their funding. Many states and localities are also waiting to find out if they have received money from grant applications submitted in spring, such as the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, for which applications are due May 30, 2013. Therefore, vendors should work particularly hard in the next few months to identify and make connections for projects that may be waiting on money from grants and the next budget cycle. 

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Deltek Pulse: Justice/Public Safety and Homeland Security April review

The most common terms appearing in solicitations during the month of February were Security, Services and Fire. The word cloud below provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.

  • Number of public safety bids: 208
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California, Florida, Texas
  • Top three key words: Security, Services and Fire

 

For the justice and public safety market, April was a big month for electronic monitoring contracts. The Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA), with Washington state leading the procurement, released a request for proposals (RFP) for electronic monitoring of offenders early in the month. This contract covers three types of monitoring and 12 states, including Louisiana, which signed a notice of intent to participate in the contract in late April. Colorado also released an RFP for two types of electronic monitoring (electronic home monitoring and GPS tracking services), which covers the Department Of Corrections’ Division of Probation Services, the Division of Adult Parole, Community Corrections, and the Youthful Offender System (YOS).

Surveillance systems were another large trend during April, with several RFPs released across the country. In California, the city of Moreno Valley released an RFP for a city-wide cameras surveillance system. The city has budgeted $1.8 million for the system, which is expected to be a wireless-based solution. The city of Atlanta also released an RFP for its long-awaited operation shield video surveillance program, which will include a wireless-mesh system.

School districts are also riding the surveillance wave. Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public School District released a request for information for a specialized surveillance system that allows live video streaming to be installed in district school buses. Pennsylvania’s Pittsburg City School District, on the other hand, made the decision to put its planned district-wide surveillance system on hold until at least next year, despite having hired a project consultant in 2010.

Radio systems continued to be in high demand in April as the FCC’s narrowbanding deadline nears. Several RFPs were released for systems and consultants, including Waukesha County, Wisconsin’s RFP for a radio communications system consultant. Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s RFP for radio equipment and services closed in April, and proposals are now under evaluation. The state of Iowa took a huge step in its quest for an interoperable communications system when the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System Board (ISICSB) sent a funding request for an appropriation of $10 million. The state hopes to use this funding to construct a system-of-systems communications network.

Analyst’s Take:

Given the trends over the last few months, and the fact that localities are still releasing solicitations for radio consultants, it appears that it is not too late for vendors to get in the game. Still, it is important for vendors to keep in mind the extreme budget constraints faced by many cities and counties. This is particularly true for entities still looking to meet the narrowbanding deadline at this late date. Many have not had the money and are only purchasing the system now in fear of the heavy fines the FCC has promised to levy against non-compliant entities. Many of these localities still do not have full funding for the system purchase, and it would be worthwhile for vendors to keep this in mind when writing their proposals. Vendors should offer scalable solutions and consider allowing counties to purchase the minimum services that would keep them compliant, with options to upgrade and/or expand the system in the future when funding is available.

While the U.S. has not nearly reached the U.K.’s penchant for surveillance systems, the nation is slowly moving toward widespread acceptance as systems increasingly aid in solving crime. Surveillance systems can be incredibly diverse in regards to where they are located and the type of system implemented. Vendors should take note of the specific type of system required by a locality and, when possible, obtain copies of any associated consulting reports. Likewise, cities and counties should take the time that Moreno Valley, Calif., did to examine the systems used in surrounding towns to determine what worked and what didn’t. They should also consider investing in a consultant to help steer the procurement process and recommend cost-effective solutions that would best fulfill requirements. Through hiring a consultant, localities can ensure that they review all possible options. While it may cost more in the short term, they could ultimately save money through purchasing the most cost-efficient system that is tailored to their specifications.