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Radio Systems and Accessories: Vendor Landscape

Radio systems are always one of the most popular technologies in the justice and public safety marketplace, particularly right now as the FCC’s narrowbanding deadline draws near. The below map provides a visual representation of where radio systems, accessories and related technology purchases have been made in the last 12 months, according to the Deltek database.

 

In states such as Texas, New York and California, the last 12 month has resulted in 10 or more purchases of radio technology, likely due to the fact that many localities are struggling to narrowband and avoid costly fines by the FCC. In the last three years, an even greater number of states with better-prepared localities also made significant radio purchases.

 

Five states had at least 15 radio purchases in the last three years. While a large portion of these were likely driven by the need to narrowband, the increase in popularity of P25 compliant systems and systems reaching the end of their useful life also played a role in these purchases.

Along with being one of the most frequently procured JPS technologies, radio systems are also some of the most expensive systems. Only 911 systems rival radio systems in cost, and 911 systems are often funded in part through 911 taxes levied on phone bills. Radio systems, on the other hand, are painstakingly funded through city and county budgets, and, if lucky, through grants.

The installation of radio systems is often limited to a select group of multistate (and in some cases, multinational), well-known vendors; however, there is significant room for smaller companies to get their piece of the pie when it comes to system accessories. Distributors and resellers often work on a more local level to provide radios, repeaters and even towers to cities and counties within a short distance of their shop. The below map identifies the states with the greatest number of vendors who list radio technologies as their primary business offering.


 

Analyst’s Take

As indicated in the above maps, the purchase of radio-based technology aligns closely with the locations of vendors selling these technologies. A great deal of this is due to the significant opportunity available to distributors and resellers in these areas. Of course, vendors focusing on radios and accessories have opportunities on a steadier basis than vendors who focus only on areas requiring the development of an entirely new system. Despite the increase in cell-phone towers and reception, radios remain the number one way in which public safety officials communicate, and this will not be changing anytime soon. Even smaller vendors should consider expanding their businesses, either in the locations served or the types of products and services offered.

While the narrowbanding deadline means that a large number of systems were recently upgraded, a significant number were not, and agencies have sought waivers or are willing to take the chance that the FCC will not enforce the deadline. In many cases, even systems that were narrowbanded were done so through the conversion of radios themselves, and full system overhauls and upgrades may still be needed.

Vendors interested in expanding location-wise should consider states where little to no radio technology purchases were made in the last few years. Given the nature of the market and widespread strapped budgets, it is unlikely that these states were all ahead of the curve and narrowbanded their systems upon first learning of the mandate. More likely, they are waiting until funding can be secured and are making due with antiquated systems and duct-tape.

The ongoing MMIS saga

Deltek has repeatedly reported on the issues states are facing when implementing their Medicaid management information systems (MMIS) – they are typically over budget, deadlines are missed, and systems are outdated by the time they are installed. The request for proposals (RFP) process is even cumbersome, with some MMIS proposals exceeding a thousand pages. This is costly for the vendor to produce, and the state to process.

 

Recently in the news, facing the MMIS monster, is New Hampshire. The state’s $61 million MMIS contract with ACS (now Xerox) was the largest computer contract in state history in 2005. While the state now estimates the system will be running by April 1, 2013, that mark is five years behind schedule, prompting a $15.8 million contract extension. Issues around federal requirements have been cited for the cause in delays, as well as modifications to fit new managed care laws in the state. Each delay requires an extension of the incumbent Hewlett-Packard contract, which is currently processing Medicaid claims until the new system is up and running. If Xerox does not make the April deadline, the vendor will be fined $5.5 million.

 

West Virginia recently awarded a staggering $248 million contract to Molina Medicaid Solutions to build its new MMIS, which was the lowest bidder on the project. The problems for West Virginia started when the MMIS RFP had to be canceled twice, the second due to a conflict of interest. HP was second in the running, and Xerox and CNSI overbid Molina, but received worse technical scores. West Virginia plans to withhold portions of payments on the contract until it is satisfied that Molina has done the proper work.

 

Although government recognizes that changes need to be made to the costly, burdensome MMIS procurement field (with its few titans), the right answer hasn’t been discovered yet. With a new set of individuals gearing up to enroll in Medicaid in the coming years, now may not be the time to switch things up. Take Arkansas, for example. The state tried to be as modular as possible in its approach, but found that vendors couldn’t support its vision yet. One thing is for sure though: States can’t continue to afford these systems, let alone those that take several more years to be developed than promised.

 

Quick decisions in the health insurance exchange market

Last week, the state of Vermont signed a $36 million contract with CGI to design, develop, and implement its health insurance exchange (HIX), Vermont Health Connect. The Vermont Health Connect is one of the many major health and human services’ IT projects underway in the state. These projects include the replacement of Vermont’s Medicaid management information system and a new integrated eligibility system. CGI is also the vendor tasked with developing the federal HIX, expected to go live in October 2013. Vermont hopes to leverage other states’ development experiences, as CGI holds state exchange contracts in Hawaii, Colorado, and Massachusetts. The state has claimed that it tried to contract with a different vendor before choosing CGI, but that the first vendor would not accept the level of liability written into the contract (the state has had three or four major IT projects go belly-up in the past few years).

 

Vermont did not use the standard request for proposals (RFP) route when choosing CGI, however. Under guidance from the feds, the state decided to use a transitive procurement process (or piggy-back contract), meaning it analyzed existing contracts and bids in other states to find a vendor. Nearby-neighbor Connecticut also ditched the traditional procurement process for its HIX, instead issuing a sole-source contract to Deloitte for both the development of its exchange and its new integrated eligibility system. The contract is worth a total of $42.6 million, and will run until 2014. The state had already engaged with Deloitte in the past, and utilized previous work history as one of the reasons for utilizing its services.

 

With quick decisions and rapid procurements to hit the looming 2014 deadline, it will be interesting to watch which states will be able to switch on and which systems might keep citizens waiting to connect. Only time will tell if rushing to implement a state-based exchange will be worth it, as states can make the switch from a federal exchange in the future. States like Vermont, which are redoing their entire health and human delivery systems, could either be the innovative success stories later mimicked across the country, or be splashed across newspaper headlines with delayed system implementation or overrun costs.

 

Be sure to also check out Deltek’s brand new Health Insurance Exchange Vertical Profile Application. The expanded coverage gives vendors a competitive edge by extensively tracking states’ progress in HIX implementation. As always, be sure to follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIN.

Spotlight on the states: A look at states with hefty health and social services IT budgets for 2013

Health and social services continues to receive a lot of attention in regards to innovation and integration of existing systems. For that, it is no surprise that state information technology budgets for related departments are being given a great deal of funding. With 2013 just around the corner, state health care and human services agencies continue to focus on meeting a number of forthcoming federal deadlines resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other federal mandates. While the feds continue to churn out guidance and requirements for health insurance exchanges (HIXs), states are battling the important decision of how they will go about HIX implementation, and are weighing the potential financial impact of Medicaid eligibility expansion.

Deltek recently released an Analyst Perspective, taking a look at states’ 2013 health care and social services budgets to identify which states plan to spend the most money, and further, what sort of IT projects they have up their sleeves. Michigan, New York, Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are among the top states with large health care and social services IT budgets in 2013. The Analyst Perspective identifies what specific technologies these states are looking to implement and the projected budget for many of these projects. Projects include the continued implementation of health information exchange (HIE) and HIX infrastructure, business intelligence system overhauls, electronic benefits transfer (EBT), unemployment insurance (UI) benefit systems, and more. 

 

More HIX opportunities on the way

With the December 14 deadline behind us, most states, with the exception of New Hampshire and Florida, have chosen their path in implementing the ACA requirement of installing a health insurance exchange (HIX) system. A total of 18 states have declared their intention to utilize a state-based exchange, while more than 20 have decided to utilize the federally-facilitated exchange (FFE). A few states including Arizona, Wyoming and Arkansas opted for the federal exchange for now, but stated that they may switch to a state-facilitated HIX in the future.
Vendors should keep in mind that just because a state chooses to utilize the FFE, it does not mean there will not be a need for other components in their insurance exchange implementation. For instance, Arizona awarded a $48.5 million contract to Xerox in November 2012 to provide HIX component interface services. That same month, Governor Jan Brewer made the decision that Arizona will not be implementing a state-based exchange due to high costs and unanswered questions associated with its implementation. However, the contract with Xerox still exists, but the scope of services has been downsized to not include state-based activities for the exchange. Instead, Xerox will fulfill other activities under the contract.
Additional exchange components a state could potentially procure for are consumer-assistance related services, such as call centers or navigators. These types of services will be highly needed to ensure optimal customer service and support for individuals signing up for plans.
States such as Oregon and California remain leaders in implementing the ACA requirements. Both states have already set up websites showcasing their upcoming portal. Marketing and outreach will be two major areas vendors can take part in from here on out. Consumers and businesses need to be aware that these systems exist.
For a more detailed overview of what is occurring in each state, check out a new report released by Deltek, “Status of the states: A look at state efforts in implementing ACA exchanges.” 
Here is a preview of the type of information found in the report:

State
Chosen Model
Status
Funding to Date
Federal
Governor Robert Bentley confirmed he will not be setting up a state-run exchange or expanding Medicaid eligibility.
$9,772,451
Federal
Governor Sean Parnell will not be implementing a state-based exchange.
0
Federal
The state will be utilizing a federally-facilitated exchange (FFE) for now, but may switch to a state-run model in the future. Xerox was contracted in November 2012 and will fulfill certain components of the HIX implementation.
$30,877,097
Partnership
The state will be utilizing the FFE model; however, according to Governor Mike Beebe, the state may switch to a state-run model in the future.
$27,461,483
State
State contracted with Accenture in June 2012. Covered California will be the name of the state’s new HIX program.
$236,430,906
State
CGI Group, Inc. is working with the state to implement its HIX, which is expected to go live October 2013.
$62,685,346
State
The state contracted with Deloitte for the implementation of its HIX and integrated eligibility solution.
$116,564,957
Partnership
The state will be utilizing the federal-state partnership model, and plans to retain control of critical plan management and consumer assistance functions.
$4,400,095

Be sure to also check out Deltek’s brand new Health Insurance Exchange Vertical Profile Application. The expanded coverage gives vendors a competitive edge by extensively tracking states’ progress in HIX implementation. As always, be sure to follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIN.

 

 

Counties across Indiana plan for NG911

Indiana is home to the IN911 network, one of the most advanced IP public safety networks in the United States. The network is capable of handling all wireless 911 calls made throughout state, and as of this year, 21 Indiana counties are connected and using next generation 911-compliant equipment. Understandably, jurisdictions across the state have been making a vigilant effort to upgrade 911 technologies to NG911.
 
Allen County is just one of the counties transitioning to NG911. It, along with the city of Fort Wayne, released a request for proposals (RFP) in October to upgrade to a VoIP NG911 phone system. Fort Wayne and Allen County are part of the Indiana Consolidated Communications Partnership (CCP) to centralize communication services. The upgraded system will be installed in all participating public safety answering points (PSAPs) to include Adams, Wells, Steuben, and Whitley Counties.
 
Dekalb, Ind., has also been working toward improving its emergency communications. The project began in June 2012 with the opening of the county’s new dispatch center, which combined the services of three centers in one location. As part of the overall project, the county partnered with Frontier and INdigital Communications to implement Solacom 911 equipment for the facility. The county currently uses the INdigital network to receive and transfer 911 calls using the most up-to-date technology. As far as plans for NG911, the county anticipates working closely with both vendors to transition to a fully compliant NG911 solution.
 
In addition, the counties of Madison, Hamilton, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, Hendricks and Boone all partnered for a new 911 telephone switch. Hancock, Madison and Hendricks are live on the new network, and the rest of the counties are expecting to transition within the next few months. All counties are currently part of a hosted 911 solution provided by AT&T. Marion, a neighboring county, has also expressed interest in joining this multi-county project. The county has been looking to upgrade its 911 system to NG911, but has been patiently awaiting budget approval. Joining the multi-county effort could ultimately help expedite this process and be a potential cost-saving opportunity for the county.
 
Analyst’s Take
 
The transition to NG911 has become more of a regionalized effort in Indiana. This could partly be due to the fact that all counties share a common network and have the capability to upgrade. Most counties seem to already have a plan in place to upgrade their current technology, but cost is a major obstacle. By partnering with neighboring jurisdictions, agencies will be able to share in the cost of the upgrade.
 
A complete NG911 environment within the state of Indiana could allow for new costs to be shared among state and local jurisdictions, but overall costs for a statewide NG911 system have posted a challenge. Wireless calls represent about 60-80 percent of Indiana’s total 911 call volume, but the revenue received from wireless fees remains inadequate to fund a statewide system. These challenges, therefore, require much needed planning and organization to be able to obtain additional funding through federal grants.
 
Indiana has taken a step in the right direction by developing a statewide 911 plan. The plan has created many potential long-term benefits for the state as it relies much on the contribution of stakeholders to help build and strengthen planning efforts for NG911. Vendors should note that it is important to get involved early in the planning process within states like Indiana, as there will be more opportunity to take part in future implementation efforts.

Opportunities Ahead: Health Insurance Exchange Deadline on Friday

The long-awaited deadline is officially right around the corner. Today marks the last day before states have to declare whether or not they will be implementing a state-based health insurance exchange (HIX). Six states – Colorado, Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Connecticut – all received conditional approval of their plans on December 10, 2012. These states all plan to have their HIXs up and ready to accept applications by October 1, 2013.
 
States have until February 15, 2013, to declare whether they plan to implement a state-federal partnership exchange. Several states have chosen this path, including Illinois, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Michigan. The partnership model allows states to share the responsibility of handling the exchange with the federal government. States can choose which components of the exchange they would like to operate, such as consumer assistance functionalities.
 
The federally-facilitated insurance exchange is still being developed by CGI, which is currently working on building a website and call center for the system. Ensuring seamless integration with existing information technology systems will be a major challenge for states and the federal government. For that, vendors should keep in mind that even states that opt for the federal exchange may still need assistance with call centers, project management, systems integration and/or enhancing and modifying existing eligibility systems.
 
Though the deadline for declaring intentions is tomorrow, December 14, here is a look at where states are at right now:
 
 
 
Want more? Be sure to check out Deltek’s brand new Health Insurance Exchange Vertical Profile Application. This latest addition gives vendors a competitive edge by extensively tracking states’ progress in HIX implementation. As always, be sure to follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIN.

Narrowbanding deadline looms large

With just 19 days until the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) narrowbanding deadline, approximately 30-35 percent of all affected licenses will not be compliant with the requirements, according to a variety of sources. While the FCC does not offer a complete list of the localities and agencies that have submitted requests for an extension/waiver, a quick search of the FCC Commission documents page yields numerous requests, and this doesn’t account for the agencies that have yet to file paperwork for a waiver. Once the deadline passes, the FCC will have a better idea of how many agencies are not in compliance.
 
As a quick refresher, the FCC announced that all non-federal radio licenses operating 25kHz systems in the 150-174 MHz and 412-512 MHz (VHF and UHF) spectrums must migrate to more efficient 12.5 kHz (narrowband) channels by January 1, 2013. The order from the FCC came in December 2004, giving agencies eight years to comply. According to the FCC, agencies that do not narrowband will face “enforcement action, including admonishments, monetary forfeitures and/or license revocation.” It is unclear what the monetary fines will amount to, but the FCC may take non-compliant systems off the air or assess fines after the deadline. The FCC will begin reframing the new 12.5 kHz channels created from the narrowbanding, which could cause interference with wideband channels still being utilized by public safety agencies.
 
Looking at the measures the FCC will apparently take should agencies not move off the wideband frequencies makes you wonder: Would the FCC really take these systems off the air? Would the FCC risk an agency’s ability to respond to incidents because it is no longer online using these channels? Eventually, these older channels will be reassigned for other uses, and public safety officials will then be crossing lines. So, maybe the FCC will act on this statement. It is indeterminate as to what will eventually occur on January 1, but this much is clear: There are going to be violators.              
 
As mentioned, a number of agencies have made requests for a narrowbanding waiver to push off compliance for various reasons. The Spokane Regional Emergency Communications System in Washington state requested, and was granted a waiver through June 30, 2014. The state of Montana was also granted a waiver, as it was determined by the FCC that it was in the best interest of the state’s citizens.
 
Analyst’s Take
 
The reasons for agency waivers are numerous, but in many cases, agencies have been engaged in various upgrades and require more time to complete them. Agencies granted waivers have to show an effort to move forward with a new system, and a time frame for doing so. According a narrowbanding guide from the Department of Homeland Security in March 2011, equipment manufactured after 1997 can be reprogrammed for narrowbanding. Vendors should work with agencies to reprogram existing equipment and infrastructure should the agency not have available funds to purchase a new system. In other cases, existing manufacturers or in-house radio technicians can reprogram radios to save money. Agencies and vendors need to work together to learn all the different options.
 
In some cases, agencies are working with equipment that is decades old and requires complete replacement to be compliant. These agencies may lack funding to move forward and may not have completed a waiver request in time. Vendors can assist these agencies in completing these requests to avoid FCC fines. If the waiver period is too late, an open line of communication should still be developed with the FCC in order to ensure a successful transition. 

 

FirstNet meets again; an RFP is not mentioned

In a meeting today, the board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) did not discuss a future request for proposals (RFP) that may be released to assist FirstNet build, deploy, and operate a nationwide public safety interoperable broadband network. Judging from information presented at the meeting, it is unlikely public information about the authority’s RFP plan will be known before the start of Q3 2013. Requests for information (RFIs) are expected to be issued early next year.
 
The board approved a resolution to develop a comprehensive business plan that will be key to determining how FirstNet will move forward with the creation of the nationwide public safety network. The communication network that police, firefighters, and other emergency responders will depend on is the biggest telecommunications project ever pursued in this country, and the $10 million business plan will indicate how it will be done. The plan will include the business model; an analysis of users; an analysis of software, hardware, and services that will be needed; the network proof of concept; the core network plan; the radio network; and how procurement and contracting will work.
 
As stated at the meeting, the comprehensive business plan will take months to complete. Information about when the plan will be delivered is expected to be known at the next FirstNet board meeting, April 23, 2013.
 
The board indicated it will release multiple RFIs in Q1 2013 for equipment and services to see what options are in the marketplace. Exact equipment and services were not named.
 
Analyst’s Take
 
The fact that the business plan, which includes procurement plans, may not even be delivered to the FirstNet board until the second half of 2013 likely means a federal RFP will not be released in 2013.
 
Once the federal RFP is released, states will have 90 days to decide if they want to opt in to the federal RFP or opt out and release their own solicitation. If a state opts out, it will then have 180 days to develop a separate RFP. Given that the federal RFP will probably not be released next year, it is also likely any state RFPs will not be released until mid-2014.
 
While this information may disappoint vendors, it is not surprising given the size of the initiative and the infancy of FirstNet. Vendors have plenty of time to position themselves and should capitalize by responding to the upcoming RFIs. Vendors should also start communicating with FirstNet and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to see if they can donate any equipment for testing and demonstrations.
 
For more information about FirstNet and the public safety LTE network market, check out Deltek’s free summary of a recently released report on the topic, here.

Public safety LTE network budgets: What will they look like?

The emerging public safety long-term evolution (LTE) market is getting a lot more attention due to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet); therefore, it is important to look at what potential budgets will look like for these networks. Deltek analyzed the budgets filed to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) by the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) awardees to gain an idea of what future projects will look like.
 
The Department of Commerce awarded seven jurisdictions BTOP funds to conduct pilot projects representing different ways that public safety LTE networks might work. The seven recipients were:
·         City of Charlotte, N.C.
·         Adams County, Colo.
·         State of Mississippi
·         State of New Jersey
·         State of New Mexico
·         San Francisco Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communication System Authority (BayRICS)
 
Looking at the combined budgets of all seven projects, Deltek found where funds are likely to go, as seen in the graphic below. Eighty-five percent of the budgets went toward equipment (50 percent), land and structures (21 percent), and architectural and engineering (14 percent). The remaining 15 percent of the budgets went toward construction, administrative and legal, site work, and miscellaneous items.
 

 

Analyst’s Take
 
Equipment accounting for half of a budget does not seem surprising given upgraded equipment is likely to be needed to handle new technology. Construction accounting for only 6 percent of the budget may come as an initial surprise, but it shouldn’t because existing radio sites and towers should already be available. Administrative and legal expenses will probably be a percent or two lower for most projects. The LA-RICS project accounted for the vast majority of the administrative and legal expenses because of its many failed procurement attempts and having to skirt around state law.
 
Overall, this appears to be an accurate reflection of what future project budgets may look like. However, it is important to remember each jurisdiction has its own set of unique characteristics, such as existing infrastructure, that need to be considered when budgeting.
 
For more information about the public safety LTE network market, check out Deltek’s free summary of a recently released report on the topic, here.

 

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