State police radio funding, next procurement to begin this summer


The Department of Management Services’ Joint Task Force panel detailed on Tuesday how $7 million allocated for state law enforcement radios last year will be spent, possibly giving a clue into how another $7 million appropriated for SLERS during the 2016 Legislative Session may be allocated as well.

The funding item has been the topic of a heated intra-industry fight between two major state government vendors.

Brevard County-based Harris Corp., which holds the lucrative nine-figure contract to produce and service nearly all of Florida’s state police radios, actively lobbied lawmakers for $7 million both this year and in 2015, arguing the funds were necessary to keep the streets safe.

Rep. Jeanette Nunez, head of a House budget committee that deals with police funding, backed that up after a hearing in February, while Sen. Alan Hays, her Senate counterpart, called it a “vendor-driven” issue.

“The agencies are not clamoring for these radios,” said Hays after the same budget meeting.

Ultimately Harris and supportive House lawmakers — including Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Rep. Ritch Workman, both from Brevard — got their way. They wrote  into the budget proviso language that appropriates the line-item for more radios over the objections of senators, who have said the extra money for new Harris-made radios could jeopardize an upcoming competitive bid process for the contract.

So where did the $7 million from FY 2016 go?

A representative from DMS laid out the outlays Tuesday, saying of the $6.9 million of the extra funds given to the Department:

  • $4.7 million went to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission for 1,120 portable units;
  • $857,733 went to FWC for 200 mobile units;
  • $654,489 went to the Department of Corrections for 150 mobile units; and
  • $633,500 went to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation for 150 mobile units.

Robert Downie, senior attorney from DMS, also provided an update on the status of the competitive procurement process set to help the state negotiate a new contract when Harris’ current contract expires in 2021.

Downie said while the above proviso language deleted a hard deadline for DMS to begin the process on July 31 of this year, the department is still using the date as a goal. He estimated the timeline from then until an award is made — “barring politics or litigation” — should be 14 to 15 months, or around fall of 2017.

Ryan Ray

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at [email protected].


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