Palm Beach County will award a radio communications contract worth up to $21 million to Motorola, despite objections from one of that firm’s competitors.

Harris Corp. has complained that the county wrote its request for proposal in a way that favored Motorola, which has provided communication services to the county for 15 years.

Motorola was going to win the bid “no matter what Harris offered, no matter what Harris did,” said Jose Luis Vazquez, south Florida sales manager for Harris Corp.

Audrey Wolf, the county’s director of facilities development and operations, denied that the bid was written to favor Motorola.

Harris’ bid, she said, was not responsive in one key area: The company offered to provide a 16-channel radio system instead of the 24-channel system the county requested.

“Sixteen channels is not enough,” Wolf said. “We don’t have anyone who says it’s enough.”

Vazquez said the county ignored the efficiency of Harris’ system.

“Our system handles the same amount of traffic with less channels,” he said.

Harris and Motorola both submitted bids for the radio contract. Motorola was allowed to provide an interface so the various public safety radio systems used by the county and its cities can be operated during a transition to a new system.

RCC Consultants, a Tallahassee firm advising the county on switching to a new system, said Motorola was the only firm that could provide the interface, which allows the county’s older Motorola radios to communicate with West Palm Beach and other networks in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Harris had expressed concern that Motorola was being given a leg up on its competition. After a three-person selection committee favored Moto­rola’s bid for the final contract, Harris filed a formal protest on July 23.

After the county rejected that protest, Harris, which provides radios for West Palm Beach and several other Palm Beach County cities in its OpenSky network, could have sought a hearing but declined to take that route.

On Tuesday, Vazquez said it would have been an exercise in futility.

Asked if Harris will file suit, Vazquez said: “We have to evaluate our position.”

Commissioner Hal Valeche asked county staff if the county’s bid process favored Motorola.

“Absolutely not,” Wolf said.

Purchasing Director Kathleen Scarlett said the county’s bid process was fair and yielded a good result.

“Good outcome for the county,” she said. “It was a good process, and it was followed.”

By:  Wayne Washington

Palm Beach Post