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

Published: April 04, 2013

Communications ServicesContract AwardsJustice/Public Safety & Homeland SecurityNG911Sequestration

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

  • Number of Public Safety Bids: 946
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (116), Pennsylvania (65) and Texas (65)
  • Top three keywords:  fire alarm and alerting, camera/surveillance and consultant

Frequency of terms:

  • Radio: 8 (6 local and 2 state)
  • 911: 1 (1 state, 1 local)

Compared to the flurry of activity in February, March proved to be a slow month for procurement across the country. One trend that carried over, unfortunately, was that of canceled projects. Governments continue to be concerned with sequestration and the potential funding impact it may have, which was especially evident in early March. The majority of canceled projects were at the state level, which is expected to get the most immediate impact of sequestration.

New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury canceled its requirement for statewide 911 telecommunications equipment, and West Virginia canceled its video surveillance system project. Some locations are even putting aside critical systems replacements in favor of cheaper upgrade options, as Sacramento, Calif., did with its radio system project.

Very little uniformity was seen in March in terms of the types of projects procured across states and localities. Fear of increased spending cuts has likely caused purchasers to create even more rigid priority lists and focus only on the most essential items first. Sandy Springs, Ga., for example, released a solicitation for its unified radio system project management opportunity, which will cover several cities in north Fulton County. The city plans to purchase the system off of a statewide contract once the project manager makes its recommendation. Likewise, Charleston County, S.C., released a long-awaited RFP for its public safety software system after releasing two RFIs for the project beginning in 2010. The project has undergone significant transformation from the original RFIs, with entities and systems joining and being removed over the last three years, as is common in projects that take significant time to finish.

Analyst’s Take

The evolution of projects from an initial RFI will be important for vendors to remember considering RFIs were particularly abundant in March for both state and local governments. The technologies sought through these RFIs vary widely and provide opportunities for vendors across the board. Orange County, Fla., released an RFI for thermal imaging cameras, while the Florida State Courts System released one for remote court interpreting technology. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) released an RFI for a new radio system, and the state of Iowa released one for digital radios and communications devices

The prevalence of RFIs continues to be an encouraging sign that the market may pick up; however, vendors should still practice cautious optimism. As seen in Charleston County, it can take several years before funding is secured for projects mentioned in RFIs, and the scope can shift significantly. Agencies often use RFIs as a way to estimate the cost of their projects and are often forced to cut back on the physical scope or requirements upon learning the true cost.

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