FirstNet Board Votes to Release RFP in January
Wednesday, December 09, 2015 | Comments
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Dec. 9 passed a resolution to release the request for proposals (RFP) for a nationwide public-safety broadband network, more than three years after the board was officially formed. The final RFP document will be publicly available by the second week of January.

“We have passed the resolution, and I am very excited,” FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson said. “Congratulations. This is a landmark board meeting.”

The 508-page document includes 13 sections, labeled A through M. The RFP sections comprise the following: solicitation, offer and award; pricing; statement of objectives; packaging and marking; inspection and acceptance; deliverables and performance; contract and task order administration; special contract and task order requirements; contract clauses; list of 26 attachments; representations and certifications; instructions, conditions and notices to offerors; and evaluation criteria.

Bidders will have three weeks after the RFP release to read and analyze the document. Questions about the RFP are due in February, and FirstNet has 30 days to respond. Capability statements, which are voluntary, are due in late March, and proposals from bidders will be due in early May. FirstNet plans to award the contract in late 2016.

“It’s an aggressive schedule, but we think very doable,” said FirstNet President TJ Kennedy.

The document does not provide requirements for bidders but instead includes a statement of objectives with 16 specific areas that must be addressed by the bidders.

Harlin McEwen, chairman of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said the PSAC members reviewed Section M — the evaluation criteria — of the RFP. “The executive committee was extremely pleased in the effort that’s gone into this part of the RFP,” said McEwen. “We have extreme confidence in the way things are going.”

FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said the board spent seven hours Dec. 8 discussing the RFP to ensure they have a “clear understanding of how it will play out.” The management team will spend the next few weeks incorporating the board comments and final items into the document.

He said the board had a great deal of discussion about the length of the evaluation period. “That is where we have flexibility and could be faster,” he said. “There will be opportunities to accelerate the evaluation period based on the number of offerors.”

FirstNet board member Neil Cox said during the meeting he would like to see the proposed timeline shortened because of “the events of the world.”

Following the release of the RFP, FirstNet will have no other formal communication with industry suppliers other than a one-hour webinar shortly after the RFP release to walk potential bidders through the dates and what is expected in the proposals.

“We’ve gone through a lot of pains to capture the essence of what’s important to public safety and industry and hopefully that resonates when they see the RFP,” Poth said.

After the contract is awarded, FirstNet will present a state plan to each state and territory, likely beginning in early 2017. FirstNet plans a more targeted series of engagements with states during 2016.

Poth also announced his leadership team, with some new hires and some employees formerly in acting roles who have now been named officially to the posts. In addition to Kennedy, Frank Freeman is the FirstNet chief administrative officer (CAO), Jason Karp, is chief counsel, and Jeff Bratcher, formerly serving as acting chief technology officer (CTO), was named CTO.

Kim Farrington was named chief financial officer (CFO), and Jim Gwinn is chief information officer (CIO). David Dasher is FirstNet’s chief procurement officer (CPO).

Sandra Wendelken is editor of MissionCritical Communications and RadioResource International magazines. Contact her at

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