Act Would Direct Florida DMS to Renew Statewide Radio Contract with L3Harris
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | Comments
Florida’s 2020 – 2021 General Appropriations Act would direct the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) to renew its contract with L3Harris Technologies for the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS).

The state’s contract with L3Harris for the system is set to expire June 30, 2021. Under the contract, Florida has the option to renew the contract as long as it does so one year prior to the end of the contract. The act does not specify a length of renewal.

The Florida Senate and House of Representatives both approved the 2020 – 2021 General Appropriations Act. It is now waiting to be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governor’s office did not respond to an email asking when the law might be signed into law.

In 2016, Florida began a procurement for a new system that would replace the SLERS system. That process led the Florida DMS to award a contract to Motorola Solutions to build the new system in 2018. At that time, Harris, which has since merged with L3 Technologies, protested the award of the contract.

A Florida administrative law judge ruled in favor of Florida DMS in September 2018 and recommended that the contract be awarded to Motorola. L3Harris appealed that decision to the First District Court of Appeals for Florida, which also ruled in favor of Florida DMS and Motorola in 2019.

However, early this year, contract negotiations between Motorola and Florida DMS fell apart, leading the state to withdraw its award. During a February meeting of the Florida Joint Task Force on State Agency Law Enforcement Communications (JTF), a Florida DMS official acknowledged a renewal with L3Harris was likely given the approaching deadline and the time needed to put together a new procurement.

The appropriations act provides $2.4 million for renewal of the contract as well as the release of a new competitive procurement for a SLERS replacement. The act mandates that the system meet the Project 25 (P25) Phase 2 standard and that it consider emerging technologies to enhance interoperability, promote public safety, and improve coverage and enhance audio clarity.

The act also directs the Florida DMS to procure a business case to evaluate public-safety communications solutions in collaboration with the JTF. The act does not mandate a timeframe for the release of a new procurement.

“The business case shall identify solutions that will expand interoperability, improve coverage, enhance audio clarity, identify emerging technology features and advance public-safety collaboration opportunities,” the act said.

In addition to renewing the contract with L3Harris, the act directs the Florida DMS to resolve a dispute over the use of conveyed towers between the state and L3Harris. During its protest of the contract award to Motorola Solutions, L3Harris said that Motorola would be unable to use several current SLERS tower sites that it said Florida conveyed to L3Harris as part of the original SLERS contract.

During court hearings, L3Harris said that it would not allow Motorola to use any of the conveyed towers and that Florida did not have authority to allow use of those towers. During those same proceedings, Florida DMS said its negotiation team had looked into the issue and determined that the state could authorize use of the towers. If signed by the governor, the act directs DMS to resolve that issue with L3Harris.

A Florida DMS spokesperson did not respond to questions about how long a renewal might be or when a new procurement might be released, and an L3Harris spokesperson declined to comment on a potential renewal of the contract.

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