Motorola Solutions Asks Florida Governor to Veto Award of SLERS Contract
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 | Comments

Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown sent a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asking him to line-item veto several items in the state legislature’s 2021-2022 budget that direct the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) to award a contract to L3Harris Technologies for a new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) without a competitive procurement process.

Earlier this month, the Florida legislature approved its budget for the coming fiscal year and in that budget, the legislature directed the DMS to award L3Harris, which currently operates the SLERS network, a 15-year contract to continue to operate and upgrade the network.

In that budget, the legislature said that it was necessary to skip a competitive procurement process to ensure that law enforcement agencies did not lose any service. The state’s current contract with L3Harris expires June 30.

“This unprecedented legislative action infringes on your executive powers by circumventing the active invitation to negotiate (ITN) from the Department of Management Services that would have allowed your agency to decide which vendor would provide the best value to Florida,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Signing the budget with line items and provisos that were quietly negotiated between the incumbent vendor and the legislature will result in a bad deal for taxpayers and a dangerous situation for Florida’s first responders.”

In the letter, Brown argued that Motorola would be able to provide a better system at a lower cost than the nearly $640 million budgeted in the legislation.

“Florida’s citizens and first responders deserve better and are best served by the fair and competitive process under the current DMS ITN and not by wasteful legislative handouts,” Brown wrote.

Brown asked DeSantis to consider vetoing line items in the bill that would direct the state to lease towers from L3Harris on an annual basis.

“Under those line items and associated provisos, the state will assume the cost, responsibility and liability for leasing and managing third-party radio towers at a cost of $187.5 million or more for access to towers that are currently part of the annual contract,” Brown’s letter said. “This cost and administrative burden should remain with the system operator who is already paid to manage it.”

Brown also took issue with a provision in the budget to provide funding for replacing current radios used by the state. He argued that the governor should direct the DMS to only replace radios that cannot be repaired under the existing contract. This would reserve the remainder of the budget for the state to competitively bid for newer and technologically superior devices.

“The legislature’s actions to infringe on your executive power and to circumvent an active procurement for the sole benefit of a single vendor sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter said. “Entering into a contract of this size and magnitude through legislative fiat has never occurred during an open procurement and should not be approved, especially given the operational delays, substandard coverage and technical issues that have plagued the incumbent operator.”

Florida first began procuring a SLERS replacement in 2016. After a procurement process, the state awarded Motorola a contract to provide the network. L3Harris appealed that decision to several courts but lost. However, in 2020, contract negotiations fell apart with Motorola, leaving the state without a path to a new system. After that contract fell apart, the state began negotiations with L3Harris to extend the current contract while it procured a new network. It also released an ITN seeking a new system.

“We believe that the state of Florida is best served by the fair and competitive procurement process the Department of Management Services (DMS) has put in place related to the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System and not by legislative mandate,” Motorola said in a statement. “As reported, we communicated with the governor that moving forward with this legislative mandate will result in a bad deal for taxpayers and a dangerous situation for first responders. The selection of mission-critical communications networks and devices is a matter of public safety, and we are evaluating all available options in the interest of Florida’s first responders and citizens.”

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