Ignoring high cost, Miami Dade commissioners rushing to pay $134M no-bid first responder radio contract

by | Jul 15, 2022


  • Miami Dade county officials, led by Jose “Pepe” Diaz, are rushing to quietly ink a no-bid, $134 million contract for high-tech Motorola radios
  • County officials bypassed normal procedures and did not seek competing bids from other radio handset manufacturers
  • Despite claims that extensive field tests were conducted, Motorola competitor L3Harris says that Miami Dade Fire Rescue never tested L3Harris radios and only a very small number of test units were activated in the county
  • L3Harris offered to supply top-of-the-line radio handsets using the county’s existing infrastructure, claiming their offer would save taxpayers approximately $40 million
  • Miami Dade officials say they have not seen L3Harris’s offer
  • The county is slated to vote on the no-bid Motorola contract at a hearing next week

Residents in Miami Dade County could soon be on the hook for an expensive upgrade to police and fire radio handsets, if the county moves forward with a no-bid contract proposal from Motorola Solutions, Inc. Taxpayers will not only have to foot the bill for thousands of the high-tech radio handsets, but also will be forced to pay tens of millions more for an upgrade to infrastructure and radio towers across the county to ensure the new handsets work properly.

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz is sponsoring the proposal, which is slated for a vote next week. The complex deal, apparently negotiated in relative secrecy, has moved forward quickly thanks to behind-the-scenes maneuvering by other county officials as well as Diaz.

A spokesman for Miami Dade Fire Department told The Capitolist that the radio handsets were field tested in real-world scenarios, including the Surfside building collapse and the recent Miami Formula One race, and said that Motorola’s APX Next handset was selected based on the device’s smartphone-like capabilities and the fact that it included mapping features and image sharing.

“After extensive market research, with over a year of testing – including real world environment testing – the new radios that the County intends to procure from Motorola offer critical public safety features that aren’t available in other radios,” said Greg Rubin, Assistant Chief, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department. “The decision on which radio to purchase was based on what offers the best features for public safety. Through this much-needed upgrade, police officers and firefighters will have access to smartphone-like technology that will positively impact their ability to respond faster and share life-saving information.”

But Motorola’s leading competitor, L3Harris, says that Miami fire officials never even tested their handsets. According to L3Harris, only a very small number of their top-of-the-line handsets were activated for testing in the county, and Miami Dade Fire Rescue was not one of the agencies that received or activated one of the test units.

Nevertheless, in a July 7th letter obtained by The Capitolist, Miami Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky urged county officials to bypass normal procedures in order to “save” the county approximately $3.5 million off the purchase price of the Motorola system. The discount was offered by Motorola only if county officials rush to strike a deal before an arbitrary deadline set by Motorola:

Although this item has not met the noticed deadline and has been provided to the Agenda Coordination Office late, this item is time sensitive, due to pricing incentive and operational need. The proposed pricing is valid until August 24th, 2022. Should the contract be awarded afterward, the price will increase $3,577,555.

The pricing gimmick and the high cost of Motorola’s proposal drew the attention of L3Harris, which maintains the county’s existing radio system.

“We are at a loss to understand why the County did not engage in robust, competitive negotiations with both L3Harris and our competitor,” said Aaron Williams, Senior Director of Global Sales for L3Harris, in a letter sent to commissioners late Wednesday. “These negotiations would have demonstrated that the county could save tens of millions of dollars by competitively purchasing this equipment.”

In the letter, L3Harris urged commissioners to open the process to competitive bidding, and offered to deliver current generation radio handsets and upgrades at a price that would save the county $40 million. One county fire official said he had not seen the offer from L3Harris and could not comment on it. Miami Dade commissioners did not respond to questions about the matter.

In addition to the offer to save millions for Miami Dade taxpayers, the letter from L3Harris ripped Motorola for trying to induce county officials into action with a false, arbitrary deadline for the county to take advantage of a pricing discount:

“…there is no real emergency in proceeding with this unnecessarily expensive sole source procurement other than the artificial deadline set by our competitor requiring the county to enter into an agreement by a date certain or face an increase in price.”

Melbourne, Florida-based L3Harris, which has had an ongoing partnership with Miami Dade county for three decades, is slated to complete an upgrade to the county police department’s existing network infrastructure, and says that Motorola’s proposal is both “unnecessary” and “duplicative.”

County Commissioners are slated to vote on the Motorola proposal next week.

4 Comments

  1. KingNether

    L3Harris’ proposal to use the existing infrastructure is the likely reason their proposal was rejected out of hand. The existing infrastructure is not adequate to support the necessary features, and is likely struggling with it’s existing load.

    Reply
  2. Jack

    Miami Dade has a Motorola infrastructure and truth Harris radios will push to talk but most of the features will not work as they are proprietary to Motorola. The same scenario would play out if it was a Harris infrastructure and you tried to use Motorola radios on it. They would push to talk but most of the features would be useless as they are proprietory to Harris.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    The Mayor should veto this item until further research is done. I smell a RAT!

    Reply
  4. an informed voter

    One can only wonder what the Commissioners are receiving for this backroom deal. The entirety of Miami Dade County utilizes Harris equipment, to now move forward with this deal for Motorola equipment on a Harris backbone is ridiculous at best and downright suspicious. The proposed features will nto owrk on the Harris Backbone and quite honestly arent needed. EVERY COP in Miami Dade has a smart phone that can accomplish these tasks. Police and fire need reliable radios to talk…thats it. Talk. Scrap this deal before it gets to vote.

    Reply

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