Relm Protests FBI’s Sole Source LMR Procurement
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Comments

Relm Wireless is challenging a sole-source procurement to Motorola Solutions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with a maximum potential of $500 million worth of LMR equipment. The five-year indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has a guaranteed minimum purchase of $100 million during the life of the contract.

The solicitation, which will be used to purchase VHF, UHF and 700/800 MHz radio equipment for the FBI and other agencies within the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, was released July 14. Items such as encryption, scanning, display and keypads are all additional capabilities or features that may or may not be ordered, the solicitation said.

The contract requires all mobile and portable radio transmitter and receiver equipment to be capable of SmartNet and SmartZone trunking, both of which are proprietary Motorola technology. “Digital radio transmit and receive equipment shall be capable of operation in the above mentioned analog conventional modes, as well as the Project 25 (P25) digital conventional narrowband mode as defined by the TIA-102 series standard,” the solicitation said. “Mobile and portable radios must have, without user intervention, the ability to receive an encrypted analog (11K0F3E) or digital signal (8K10F1E) on the same programmed channel.”

In its justification for brand name only acquisition, the FBI said its legacy portion of the wideband LMR system was implemented 30 years ago. The useful life has been exceeded but the system can be extended another 10 – 15 years with the upgrade to current capabilities. “All new and replacement equipment must be compatible with existing proprietary 9.6-control link and ASTRO 25 7.13 conventional systems already deployed, which are proprietary to [Motorola],” said the FBI’s justification document. “Choosing an alternate equipment manufacturer would require substantial investment in a system design, site development, implementation, optimization and retraining. Having a follow-on contract for [Motorola] equipment will save on training costs and loss of man-hours.”

In an email to an FBI official, Relm Wireless Vice President Ken Klyberg said Relm challenges this “brand name sole source IDIQ Solicitation Number: RFP3012 on the grounds that it is too broad based and unjustly bars competition where there is no justification warranted.”

“Relm understands that the FBI has in some areas 30-year-old infrastructure and in order to maintain that infrastructure the original equipment manufacturer’s parts are necessary, and when those parts are no longer available new equipment may need to be substituted,” Klyberg said. “… Soliciting a sole source contract that encompasses only the infrastructure would be an acceptable approach.”

However, Klyberg said limiting the procurement to only Motorola subscriber devices — portable and mobile radios — is unwarranted and not cost effective. The Relm email points to the P25 Compliance Assessment Program (CAP), which DHS oversees and funds. “This requirement as written should be rescinded, and if need be, replaced with a requirement that only equipment successfully demonstrated P25 CAP compliant (as listed on the DHS LLIS website) be acceptable,” he said.

Klyberg said current P25 subscriber radios would work with the FBI’s legacy infrastructure. “The FBI has mismanaged their LMR systems for decades, and now they’ve dug themselves into a hole,” he said in an interview. “Anyone with common sense can see this is mismanagement. This is the Department of Justice; these are the people who are supposed to be enforcing the laws and setting the standards. It’s the federal government abandoning P25.”

Margaret Einspahr, FBI contract officer, said in an email response she was unable to answer any questions because it is a pending procurement.

The link to the FBI solicitation is here.

Motorola officials did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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