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Deltek pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security February review

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

  • Number of Public Safety Bids: 971
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (106), Pennsylvania (88) and Georgia (57)
  •  Top three keywords:  fire alarm and alerting, consultant and radio

Frequency of terms

  • Radio: 9 (7 local and 2 state)
  • 911: 1 (1 state, 0 local)

Weeks after the narrowbanding deadline passed, counties finally seem to be making progress in meeting the new requirements. Several counties awarded projects for new radio systems in February, including Chester County, Penn., and Putnam County, N.Y. Other localities released radio solicitations, including Yadkin County, N.C.; Otsego County, N.Y.; and St. Tammany Parish, La., which released a solicitation to rent radio equipment and trunked repeater services.

While there was significant progress made in several projects as long-awaited RFPs were released, funding continues to be a huge hindrance for many governments. Though several states and localities are used to releasing RFIs to gain a better understanding of technologies and how they could be applied to their specific needs, more and more agencies are using RFIs to determine costs of solutions and whether they can afford to pursue implementation efforts.

Many of these RFIs used for price analysis are resulting in canceled projects a year or two after the initial RFI release. North Carolina released an RFI for computer-aided translation software for the Administrative Office of the Courts in August 2012, and canceled the project in February 2013. Likewise, the California Administrative Office of the Courts canceled its online privacy protection service project, which an RFI was released for in March 2011. Pennsylvania made a surprising choice, given recent media focus on gun control, and canceled its instant gun check system project, which was first mentioned in a 2007 RFI.

Analyst’s Take

Despite many projects being canceled across agencies due to funding, this does not mean they won’t be pursued in the future. Some agencies are moving the projects in house, while others are waiting for the economy to improve. Further entities are seeking funding for necessary projects in unconventional ways. After the rejection of budget requests, the Austin Police Department is seeking forfeited funds to pay for one of its projects. Rockdale County, N.C., is submitting a request for capital appropriations for one of its larger projects, and is also considering applying for grants.

The trend of canceled projects and seeking untraditional funds is likely a response to the government’s sequestration measures, which will likely mean fewer grants for state and local agencies. At this point, however, agencies have been dealing with budget constraints for years, and some projects must be completed. Vendors should keep an eye on the budget process in key localities, including any chances agencies may have to seek additional funds if projects are not included in the finalized budget. This is particularly true for agencies that may have access to forfeited funds or vendors that serve the 911 market, as many 911 boards can spend money collected from citizens’ telephone bills as the 911 surcharge.

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

The most common terms appearing in solicitations during the month of February were Security, Services and Management. The word cloud below provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.
-Number of public safety bids: 140
-Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California, Texas and Missouri
-Top three key words: Services, Security and Management
February saw advancements in several major justice and public safety projects across the U.S., primarily at the state level. The Virginia State Police released a much-anticipated solicitation for the Virginia Intelligence Management System (VIMS) project. The system will be used to track intelligence from various state and local agencies as well as commercial sources to identify potential threats located throughout the state. Washington state released a request for proposals (RFP) for in-vehicle surveillance cameras to be used by state patrol officers, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security entered into contract negotiations with xFact, Inc., to develop requirements for a computer aided dispatch and records management system.
On the local level, Miami-Dade County, Fla., released several solicitations in February, including one for a computer aided dispatch and automatic vehicle locator system project, and another for a video equipment and software upgrade project. Missoula, Mo., released an RFP for a consultant to aid in the implementation of a COPS technology grant that will be used to fund projects including the purchase of mobile data terminals, video cameras, and security upgrades for the police department headquarters. Salt Lake City, Utah, also released two RFPs for large projects: one for a next generation 911 phone system, and another for an IP-based recording system that will record for the NG911 system and the city’s 800MHz Motorola radio system. Both projects will be installed in the new public safety building currently under construction.
Analyst’s Take:
Following a trend that began in January, procurement officials continued to develop and provide more succinct timeframes for projects, and make decisions about projects previously in flux, even if that meant canceling projects due to budget constraints.
February saw a slight increase in consulting and feasibility study projects like the one under consideration for the Colorado State Titling and Registration System (CSTARS); this further proves that governments on every level are watching their money. While paying for a consultant may require an initial output, it seems a majority of localities are willing to pay the price rather than risk millions of dollars and vital resources by tackling large and costly projects alone. This is also true for large statewide projects such as Virginia’s statewide incident-based reporting system, which saw a consultant hired through the state’s IT contingent labor contract. Vendors should make a point to showcase their past successes in projects of similar size and scope as a way to assure potential customers that their time and money will not be wasted.
Due to continually strapped budgets for states and localities, February also brought an increase in the number of projects put on hold. As previously mentioned, several projects were also canceled due to lack of funds and support, such as Albuquerque, N.M., which canceled its citywide automatic vehicle location system. Other counties have responded to the current fiscal environment by bringing complex projects in house and, in some cases, through expanding existing systems operating in nearby towns.
As the fiscal situation is not likely to significantly improve in the near future, particularly for smaller cities and counties, vendors should focus on providing scalable solutions and, when possible, help localities work together to purchase and implement a single system that is affordable for both participants.