Sunday, March 30, 2014

Motorola and its solutions

The Sun-Herald published a damn fine piece of reporting this morning on how Motorola underbid the nearest competitor by $90 million to win the contract to build the statewide radio system (MSWIN) for police and first responders.  MSWIN has been a sore spot to chiefs around the state as the prices of radios have increased while the threat of user fees floats in the air.  Then there is the little fact that Haley and his cohorts are now Motorola lobbyists.  Nice work if you can get it.   The Sun-Herald reports:

Mississippi's governor fought back hard from one of Hurricane Katrina's more exasperating blows -- a knockout punch to emergency radio systems that forced rescue workers along parts of the Gulf Coast to communicate via hand-carried notes.

Seizing on the walkie-talkie failures, Gov. Haley Barbour set one of the nation's poorest states on course to leapfrog past the other 49 into the forefront of emergency communications technology.

Within months of Katrina's 2005 devastation, Barbour enlisted Mississippi's two powerful senators, Republicans Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, to divert $100 million in federal disaster aid toward a new statewide digital radio system.

Later, with construction in progress, Barbour announced plans to vault Mississippi into the vanguard by building a second, $70 million, next-generation network that could flash data and videos via broadband to police, firefighters and medics.

Motorola, the company that for decades has reigned over America's public safety radio market, was poised to capitalize on another flow of taxpayer money.

It was a noble idea: a radio system that allows first responders and law enforcement to talk to each other on their radios no matter where they are in Mississippi. However, the contract was the largest ever awarded in Mississippi. You know what that means.  Every lobbyist popped up out of the woodwork. OPEC raised its prices as oil was purchased by the tanker to grease the wheels. Ticos and Char enjoyed some stimulus spending.  Hot blondes who worked for certain state agencies found themselves to be prom queens again. But I digress. The story continues:

Motorola captured both of Mississippi's mega contracts, which promised to generate more than $300 million in sales, with initial bid prices so low competitors were dumbfounded.

The firm's lowball bids offer a case study in how some of the company's myriad marketing tactics have warded off competition and helped preserve its estimated 80 percent hold on the nation's emergency telecommunication busines...

In Mississippi, Motorola locked up the radio project with a bid price of $221 million, $90 million below that of rival M/A-Com Inc. Although Motorola had the least experience of three bidders for the broadband network, its price of $56 million over the system's 10-year life was $33 million lower than that of runner-up Alcatel-Lucent.

Despite the appeal of savings in Motorola's bids, one of the new networks has been scrapped and Mississippi lacks the money to operate the other.

The broadband project, which gave Motorola bragging rights for building the nation's first statewide high-speed data network for first responders, was nearly finished when the board of a new U.S. Commerce Department unit voted in December to kill its funding. Mississippi officials and the new agency, known as FirstNet, were at an impasse in negotiations over a required lease of space on the federal wireless spectrum, which FirstNet now controls....

Built up an LTE network only to see it scrapped. However, the federal government did change the rules after the state built the system. Earlier post Then there is the matter of money.

As for the newly completed radio network, state officials say it performs well in every corner of the state. But they lack the $13 million per year needed to operate it.

In a number of deals, Motorola has followed its initially low bids with "change orders" that significantly raised the final cost of a system or by reaping a windfall with additional orders for radios costing as much as $7,500 apiece.

Ah yes, the price of the radios. It is said the devil is in the details. Beelzebub is present in this deal and he takes the shape of a MSWIN radio. Ask any fire or police chief in Mississippi about what happened to the price of radios since MSWIN became operational. Radios no longer cost around $500. Nope. Want to join MSWIN? Look at spending $1,400 to $5,000 per radio, depending on which bells and whistles you want. Radios working on both MSWIN and local radio systems (such as Hinds) that are not "interoperable" cost several thousand dollars. A big deal to any police or fire department.

In a not-too-veiled reference to Motorola, former Barbour said he was warned "about some companies that have a reputation for underbidding" and then recovering the money through costly contract modifications, known as change orders.

"We worked very, very hard regularly to make sure there weren't change orders" on the radio contract, Barbour said.

It was tough talk, considering that within months of leaving office in 2012 Barbour registered as a federal lobbyist for Motorola Solutions.

It gets even better. Serena Clark managed to flower from Haley policy adviser to Motorola lobbyist. Motorola has paid Serena Clark over $209,000 as a lobbyist since she left Governor Barbour's office in 2010. However, there is more, much more in this story.  There is no way to do it justice on this site. Read it for yourself. All the way to the end.  Rest of article


Anonymous said...

As for the decision to GIVE (no-bid) the tower construction contract to Alabama contractor. That has proved to be a very costly mistake. The contractor has sold towers to American Tower and SBA V for mega millions 50-60 million. The State is on the hook for long term contracts upward of $ 4-5 million/yr. this is insane.

That is why the legislature should not fund.

Anonymous said...

McClatchy ran stories like these with local details in a number of their papers.

Misrepresentations help Motorola get a $50 million federal grant By Greg Gordon and Lydia Mulvany McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 30, 2014

How one timely purchase of hardware bent a radio contract Motorola’s way March 30 By Greg Gordon and Lydia Mulvany
McClatchy Washington Bureau

Kansas gives Motorola $50 million contact, based on bids from 1991
March 30 By Greg Gordon and Deb Gruver McClatchy Washington Bureau
WICHITA, Kan. — Without inviting competitive bids, Kansas officials awarded Motorola a $50 million deal to build a new statewide emergency radio network by crafting it as an amendment to a contract signed 14 years earlier.

Anonymous said...

the really sad thing is the law which gave the WCC power also gave them the right to build the MSWIN system out on ANY publically owned(city/county/state) tower. yet they elected to pay rent instead of using existing government facilities which were usually already in the proper place to provide needed coverage. THEN when localities go on and the coverage is not up to par the state goes and installs additional sites, that is where a lot of the change orders come in. Moto knew this would happen and counted on it.

Anonymous said...

The state has a 6 billion dollar budget and can't find 13 million to operate its radio system?! - give me a break!

Johnny Weir said...

You have to hand it to Haley. He a wonderful Alchemist. He takes the poorest State in the union for a fleecing. Runs to Washington and never looks back. This man got ice water in his veins. What first responder can affored a $5000.00 phone in Mississippi?

Anonymous said...

Is this Haley barbour y'all are talking about here, Thad Cochran's Chief Cheerleader?

Anonymous said...

Greed and Control is at the heart of this issue. Our trusted politicians and beurecrats are taking us to the cleaners
Another Beef Plant?? $$$Millions of taxpayers dollars gone.

This system would have been self sufficient and affordable for our State if our team had made prudent decisions as mentioned earlier.

This makes New Jersey politics look like a pansie.

Anonymous said...

As the layers are peeled back on Haley, his cohorts, and their conniving, Haley appears more and more as a professional politician, instead of a statesmen.

Anonymous said...

Statesman! Haley is a business man and makes his money on dirty government deals.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't all Haley.

Don't forget who was Chairman of Homeland Security, FEMA from 2007-2011.
Our congressman Bennie Thompson.
He was very involved in securing the FEMA funding to continue the buildout.
As always there were strings attached.
Keep digging you will be very surprised.

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing starts with the bid proposal , how it is written and by whom.

Then you have to make sure the process is fair and honest.

In the first instance, those writing the contract are in over their heads and it's easy for those bidding to find ways to " enlighten" them. There are fewer barriers to keep that from happening.

In the second instance, de-regulating away all the safeguards and penalties is simply legalizing that which might have once put someone's conning ass in jail.

Kingfish said...

To be fair, my understanding is the more expensive ones are for the dual system radios. If you want one that works on both Hinds radio system and MSWIN, its costs much more.

However, the radios may have dropped to $1,400 apiece for the low end units. Chiefs tell me that is still nearly triple what they pay for a radio that works on their own system.

Anonymous said...

This is the purest example of hack reporting. The innuendo and supposition serves no reporting purpose. How about spending some time and doing research and getting the entire complete story and present facts in a way that it doesn't attempt to suggest something that you have no proof of? How about looking at it from the beginning and not leaving out pertinent parts just so the reader can be "mad" at someone or "blame" them.

There are bad parts to this whole, long sordid deal, but attempting to lay it at the hands of greed or whatever is just stupid and shortsighted. MS was first through the door simply because of Katrina and the first through the door is usually the one that gets their nose bloodied.

To complete one's attempted slander of this whole thing and individuals involved, how about getting some information for your own benefit:

What is Project 25?

Why did the parameters change? Was it because MS was one of the first to implement a SCIP before DHS came up with the specifics of the NECP?

MS communications was laid bare by Katrina in 2005 and the Federal government had a plan for funding public safety communications that was then added to the DTV bill as part of the Deficit Reduction act of 2005. The federal funding wasn't just for MS, but MS' experience with Katrina exposed it's need.

Then, when the Feds started fleshing the whole program out, MS was already out of the gate.

I know no details of the entire thing but just used simple internet research because the reporting made this sound like some kind of specific fleecing that was obvious and no one was doing anything about.

Also, why would the cost of radios from an international company go up, simply because MS went into a contract where the vendor underbid? Why doesn't P-25 make it competitive?

Anonymous said...

lol 10:01. Just soooo impressed with the commentary, did someone used to write the lines for Sgt. Schulz in Hogan's Heros?

Really hope someone takes a look at the F35 plane program because there is the same kind of hack reporting going on there. Making it seem it won't work and costs are outta control, people are fooled into thinking the taxpayer is getting another lobbyist special in the kiester.

Anonymous said...

Get over yourself 10:01 before it is too late.

Anonymous said...

There are two "Baaaaaa" sheeps sounding off in the echo chamber. Surely more will be along shortly to make it a chorus of ignorant headline readers

Headlines and soundbites. That's modern U.S. reporting because the average imbecile can't think for themselves and don't want news that's too wordy.

Pittpanther said...

Props to the Sun-Herald for publishing the story, but what exactly can I do with this information now? I can't vote Haley out of office. No one will go to prison based on this story.

This story is about 5 years late.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly the sort of crap that made me decide to vote for Chris McDaniel. No bid and non competitive bids given by Thad 7 Co., to Haley and his establishment croneys.

After 40 years of it's time for a change in the senate.

Visit -

Kingfish said...

Actually the Haley people were lobbying for macom. Henry and Pete Perry both did.

Take a look at someone else... who is currently a mayor

Anonymous said...

thanks KF

Taylor R said...

The MSWIN radio system is a P25 radio system. P25 is called Project 25, which is split into 3 phases. Whenever the system was first being implemented, radios were cheap because they were P25 Phase I compliant (FDMA digital). Now that the MSWIN system is transitioning to Phase II, users must upgrade to Phase II (TDMA digital) radios. The TDMA radios are several thousand dollars more than the FDMA capable radios, but the state knew this before MSWIN went live. The Mississippi Wireless Communications Commision ( who manages the MSWIN system) has required all users to have TDMA capable radios by I believe 2016. Motorola didn't just blue ball the state like the article was written, the state knew it would have to eventually upgrade the radios before they built the system. Also, every single Motorola radio whether FDMA or TDMA is capable of operating on a system such as Hinds County with the flip of a knob. If the state truly felt they were getting ripped, they would just buy from another manufacturer. Motorola radios are not the only radios that will work on the system. EF Johnson, Harris, Kenwood and M/A Com radios work just fine on the system. Just my two cents on the subject....

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