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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The pork in the piggy backs

I have had so many posts about the abuse of the so-called "cooperative purchasing" method of source selection see, eg, here and here and here, of which "piggy-backing" is one type, that I've decided to start a new tag/label: "Cooperative purchasing".

Please read the entire article below at the link; I tend to cut and rearrange and alter the context, so you really must read the original. It's hard to believe (or is it?), and don't take my word for it.

Dropped jaws, protests over another no-bid Motorola contract
The broadband deal that Motorola secured in Harris County, Texas, offers a case study in how the company almost magically avoids head-to-head bidding on many contracts.

“I would never have thought Motorola could do this, but Motorola came in and told me such a great story, I couldn’t not go with them,” said Harris County systems architect John Chaney, according to two attendees, who were not authorized to speak for the record.

In the audience were representatives of Motorola competitors who didn’t get a chance to tell their stories.

A county attorney winced and shook her head, then tried to explain why the contract was open and fair under Texas law, even though no other company was invited to bid, the attendees said.

In a recent phone interview, county officials contended that the $7.5 million contract (the county put up 20 percent of the money) was competitively bid because it was added to a two-way radio contract awarded by the Houston-Galveston Council of Governments that Motorola won competitively in 2007.

Piggybacking on competitively bid contracts in different jurisdictions – even in other states – has become an accepted mechanism for local governments to bypass potentially lengthy and contentious procurement processes. The Houston-Galveston contract also was used by Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., to award Motorola deals worth tens of millions of dollars without taking bids from other vendors.

n the fall of 2011, Florida-based Harris Corp. and another cellular broadband player, Alcatel-Lucent USA, filed formal protests over the contract award with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

To buy “wholly new technology” without inviting bids is “doing so illegally to the detriment of taxpayers,” Steve Marschilok, president of Harris’ Public Safety and Professional Communications unit, wrote Abbott.

Marschilok also said that other cities and counties were proposing to purchase broadband networks via the old Houston-Galveston contract, according to a copy of the protest obtained by McClatchy.

Perhaps as a result of those complaints, Harris County elected to invite bids for the network’s eventual expansion to cover the full county, a project that could be worth much more money.

But Motorola now had new advantages. The company not only had put together the pilot network, but it also was operating the system’s $3.3 million core, stationed at Texas A&M University. A core’s operator usually writes software rules determining what kind of equipment can work with a network and, perhaps more importantly, which equipment can’t, government and industry officials said.

When Harris County invited bids for the larger project, only one company responded: Motorola.

Motorola’s Schassler said that the county has yet to move forward with expanding the network.

Read more here:
McClatchy has been following this story-line for a while, as has your blawger.

See this.

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