Future of Florida Statewide Public-Safety Network Still Uncertain, Contract Renewal Likely
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | Comments

The future direction of Florida’s Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) is still uncertain after a contract award to Motorola Solutions to build a replacement system fell apart at the start of this year. However, a renewal of the current contract with L3Harris Technologies to allow for a transition period is likely, a state official said.

At the Florida Joint Task Force on State Agency Law Enforcement Communications' (JTF) Feb. 25 meeting, Patrick Gillespie, deputy secretary of business operations management for the Florida Department of Management Services, said that DMS is still considering its options for moving forward and having conversations with the state legislature on next steps.

"I can't sit here and tell you what the legislature will decide in the next three weeks, but we're actively trying to decide how to move forward quickly," he said.

Under the current SLERS contract with L3Harris, the state has the option to extend the contract but must notify L3Harris of its intent to do so at least one year prior to the end of the contract on June 30, 2021.

JTF Chair Gene Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol, emphasized the importance of having a clear plan by the time that contract expires.

"What's our plan for July 1, 2021?" Spaulding asked. "That's the critical issue, and we're in a critical state right now, and if for some reason the decision is to come back and reprocure, we all know that's a three- to four-year process."

Spaudling noted that many of his agency's radios are 17 – 20 years old and that without the maintenance contracts provided under the network, which would also end July 2021, his agency and others would have trouble providing working radios for officers.

"Therefore, when you ask right now how many radios we have that are broken, our answers are none, but as soon as we lose that maintenance contract July 1, by Sept. 1, it’s going to be a higher number and by Oct. 1 it's going to be an even higher number because we’re not going to have replacement parts and we’re not going to have a maintenance contract, so those are going to be some very serious concerns."

Gillespie said that the state is starting to have conversations with L3Harris about a renewal and acknowledged that there likely would need to be a renewal of some sort to facilitate another procurement process and a transition to the new network.

In early 2018, the state of Florida awarded Motorola a contract to build a statewide Project 25 (P25) public-safety radio network to replace SLERS. Harris, which has since merged with L3 Technologies to form L3Harris Technologies and built and currently maintains the SLERS network, protested the award of the contract to Motorola.

In September 2018, a Florida administrative law judge ruled in favor of Florida DMS and recommended that the state award the contract to Motorola. L3Harris appealed that decision to the First District Court of Appeal for Florida, which also ruled in favor of Florida DMS and Motorola in September 2019.

Construction on the new network was anticipated to begin in 2020; however, contract negotiations between Motorola and Florida DMS fell apart. In a Jan. 9 letter to Motorola, Florida DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter said that because Motorola had failed to execute a contract for the new network, the state would explore its options and work on a new procurement process.

During a Motorola Solutions earnings call in early February, CEO Greg Brown confirmed that Motorola’s agreement with the state of Florida had fallen through but did not offer details into why.

“It’s fair to say there was some fluidity in scope and design assumptions,” he said. “Now, having said that, we have an extensive presence throughout the state, and we still look forward to participating in whatever the state of Florida decides to do next.”

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