Future of Florida SLERS Still Unclear, Business Case Near Completion
Friday, November 20, 2020 | Comments

The future of the Florida Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) is still uncertain as the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) continues to negotiate with L3Harris on a contract extension and the state legislature on the budget for the new system.

Florida DMS has continued to negotiate with L3Harris, who operates the current SLERS system, about extension of the contract every other week, said Patrick Gillespie, deputy secretary of business operations for DMS during a meeting for the SLERS Joint Task Force (JTF) Board. In those meetings, the two parties have been talking through different scenarios related to continuing operation of the current network, he said.

Adding more uncertainty is the budget for the new system is not set as another session of the Florida legislature is set to begin. DMS continues to work with the legislature on the budget for the system.

“So I think we’re going to continue having these discussions and continue looking at different scenarios for the next several months, just to give a little bit of understanding of the timeframe we’re working on,” Gillespie said.

The state’s contract with L3Harris for the SLERS network is set to expire on June 30, 2021. In 2016, Florida began a procurement process for a new system that would replace the SLERS system. Following that process, the Florida DMS awarded a contract for a new network to Motorola Solutions in 2018. At that time, Harris, which has since merged with L3 Technologies, protested the award of the contract.

A Florida administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of Florida DMS in September 2018 and recommended that the contract be awarded to Motorola. L3Harris appealed that decision to a Florida appeals court, which also ruled in favor of the Florida DMS. At the start of this year, though, contract negotiations between Motorola and the Florida DMS fell apart, leading the state to withdraw its award.

Since withdrawing its award to Motorola, the Florida DMS has been negotiating with L3Harris to extend the current contract while it works to determine what the next network will look like. In August, the Florida DMS awarded Federal Engineering a contract to develop a business case that will assist with the procurement of the new network.

That business case will identify solutions that will be considered for the next SLERS network. Gillespie said that the business case is nearly complete and will be distributed to the board soon.

Florida Highway Patrol Colonel and Chairman of the JTF Board Gene Spaulding noted that the state is in a tight spot as it looks at a renewal for the network but said it was important that the state law enforcement agencies work together to ensure they get a system that fits all of their needs. “I know DMS is working diligently and they’re great partners,” said Spaulding. “I know they’re in tight spot trying to get the extension negotiated with L3Harris and they’re working diligently to get that done. … We’ve been talking about this for a while now, and I think we’re in a position that nobody anticipated, and it’s really nobody’s fault, but here we are.” Spaulding noted that the current network does not meet all of the agencies needs currently and said it is important that the new network does. “It’s vey bare bones right now and we’re definitely in need of something, even if an extension is awarded to L3Harris,” Spaulding said. “We have to stand together as agencies and with DMS to go forward and pursue this collectively and make sure our voices are heard at the legislature and the governor’s office.” Would you like to comment on this story? Find our comments system below.



 
 
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Comments
On 11/27/20, John King said:
As a Fire Chief in the Florida Panhandle that interacts with Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish Wildlife I see firsthand how these agencies currently struggle To communicate with the legacy system that they already have. Our state law enforcement agencies are in desperate need of an upgraded system with modern capabilities for officer safety. The current end of life SLERS system puts state agencies on a virtual island with limited abilities to communicate with other modern systems throughout the state. Keep up the fight.


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