Florida TaxWatch released a report Wednesday analyzing the longrunning saga to replace the aging Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System.
The report, “Calling all Cars?,” details the soon-to-expire contract with L3Harris and the tumultuous process to secure a vendor for a new radio system.
Motorola won the contract to build out a next-generation SLERS three years ago, but L3Harris brought an immediate legal challenge. Mired in the courts, the project’s deadline has been pushed back repeatedly.
As FTW puts it, the Florida Department of Management Services is “is no closer to contracting with a successor than it was five years ago.”
The nonpartisan watchdog group says the SLERS saga “underscores the need for procurement reform.”
In the report, FTW recommends DMS and L3Harris to extend the current SLERS agreement through June 30, 2026, to permit the transition to a next-gen system and the eventual decommissioning of the current system.
Florida TaxWatch says “it’s doubtful DMS will be prepared to assume full ownership of SLERS on July 1, 2021, and, in an abundance of caution, state law enforcement agencies are pursuing their own deals to secure new radios with the Legislature. The cost of the extension is likely to be higher than the cost of the current agreement.”
The report drops as lawmakers are considering putting the dispute to bed by defunding payments to the system. The Senate is also considering reauthorizing the $3 fee on traffic tickets that fund the system.
“There may be no more important statewide system than the one connecting our first responders, and this stagnant and time-consuming process has come at considerable taxpayer expense. It clearly emphasizes the need for a complete overhaul of Florida’s procurement system,” FTW President and CEO Dominic Calabro said.
“Florida TaxWatch urges the Legislature to seriously consider the Florida TaxWatch recommendations to amend existing laws and implement additional measures to reduce the number of bid protests, preferably establishing a ‘debriefing process’ that allows all involved parties to identify and resolve errors or issues as early as possible.
“We are hopeful such long-overdue and needed change will be codified before the end of session, in time to guide the SLERS-2 procurement process and enable the successful fulfilment the most important function of state government – protecting the public.”
Florida TaxWatch last year outlined recommendations and called for an overhaul of the state’s procurement system, with a focus on transparency and open competition, as well as commitment to the best outcomes for taxpayers.