It’s Harris vs. Motorola today as joint task force takes up state radio system procurement

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

On Tuesday, the Department of Management Services’ Joint Task Force on State Agency Law Enforcement Communications will continue an ongoing discussion on a business case from January that recommends the adoption of a suite of “P25” radio standards and — significantly, for communications industry stakeholders — a competitive bidding process to achieve them.

The new, enhanced standards for law enforcement radio systems are meant to make all radios issued to state personnel interoperable, or compatible across agencies and jurisdictions. Florida has seen avoidable tragedies in recent years stemming from incompatible systems that have prevented police and emergency management officials from adequately coordinating.

The state’s current radio vendor, the Brevard County-based Harris Corp., has argued that taxpayers would be best served by continuing its contract, which expires in 2021. Harris argues it can make the same upgrade for cheaper and without risk of disruption of service that would attend a switch to a new vendor.

Others, including industry competitors, say the best way forward is to completely revamp the radio infrastructure from the ground up, scrapping the existing analog system such that no efficiency would result in keeping the current vendor in place beyond its current contract. Motorola Solutions and Airbus are expected to enter a bid if a procurement process goes forward as recommended by the task force.

The meeting is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the DMS’ Betty Easley Center, in Tallahassee’s Southwood district.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.