Motorola urges Gov. DeSantis to veto SLERS contract

Police patrol car radio equipment and microphone. Walkie-talkie.
Motorola Solutions is taking its last stab at preventing the deal.

Motorola Solutions sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday asking him to veto a budget item that grants Harris Corp. a contract to upgrade and maintain the state’s police radio network.

The 2021-22 budget passed by lawmakers includes $165 million in in nonrecurring funding to upgrade the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System and awards the company a 15-year contract at $31.5 million a year — $19 million to oversee the system and $12.5 million to lease radio towers controlled by the company.

The new agreement comes after a years-long war that at one point saw Motorola win the SLERS contract only for Harris Corp. to challenge it in court and eventually come out on top through the legislative budgeting process.

With the letter, Motorola Solutions is taking its last stab at preventing the deal before the Governor signs the budget and codifies the Harris Corp. contract into law.

“This unprecedented legislative action infringes on your executive powers by circumventing the active Invitation to Negotiate from the Department of Management Services that would have allowed your agency to decide which vendor would provide the best value to Florida,” Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown wrote in the letter.

“Signing the budget with line items and provisos that were quietly negotiated between the incumbent vendor and the legislature will result in a bad deal for taxpayers and a dangerous situation for Florida’s first responders.”

As written in the budget, Harris Corp.’s solution would cost $640 million in payments over the next 15 years. Brown states that Motorola Solutions would provide a new, state-of-the-art P25 system and radios for substantially less. To illustrate this point, he noted Motorola Solutions was approximately $300 million lower cost than Harris when it won the last competitive bid.

Brown urged DeSantis to strike the lease payments, which total $187.5 million, from the budget and stick to the recommendations in the Governor’s budget proposal calling for $13 million to replace broken police radios and put the remainder of the $55 million set aside for new radios up for a competitive bid.

“The Legislature’s actions to infringe on your executive power and to circumvent an active procurement for the sole benefit of a single vendor set a dangerous precedent. Entering into a contract of this size and magnitude through legislative fiat has never occurred during an open procurement and should not be approved, especially given the operational delays, substandard coverage and technical issues that have plagued the incumbent operator,” Brown wrote.

“The State of Florida has always supported a very deliberate process for major contract decisions that includes development of a business case to support good decision making. Toward that end, the state hired an outside, objective expert last year and has since paid it more than $1 million to analyze the situation, consider alternatives, formulate recommendations and support the current ITN. All of that effort and expenditure of taxpayer dollars has been undermined at the last minute via legislative action.”

The letter is below.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


3 comments

  • john

    May 13, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    These radio contracts are full of fraud, bid rigging and corruption. Broward County changed to a radio that costs 10x more and forced all the municipalities onto the system. I can buy a 2meter reliable radio for $25 on E-bay. For $100 a radio so packed with features that I can’t learn them all. But we have to provide cops and fireman with $6000 units because the taxpayer has no one looking out for us.

    • Dave

      May 24, 2021 at 10:43 am

      I too am tired of the “business by lawsuit” trend that has become the norm between Harris and Motorola. However, making a statement that appears to be that your $25 Hammy Chicom radio could even come close to replacing a public safety rated radio is irresponsible at best. You would have to carry a trunk full of $25 radios to replace what one of these portable radios goes through in even one day. And that’s really only to keep the radio turning on when you press the button or turn the knob. Yes, they are stupid expensive but they’re expensive for a reason. I’ve worked in two-way and public safety radio business for over 30 years. IMHO, cheap radios and cutting corners on system design or implementation almost always equals poor performance or worse, directly putting the life of a first responder or LEO in danger. It could also put normal citizens into danger when those same first responders or law enforcement officers are unable to request backup when needed in let’s say an active shooter situation that you might find yourself in. When that button is pushed on that radio, it needs to get out to everybody involved THE FIRST TIME.
      There is absolutely more that goes into procurement of radios and engineering, building out and operating the system that they will operate on then just sitting at a keyboard and ordering the latest greatest $25 radio you can find on eBay or Amazon. Since you appear to be an active HAM and may have a basic understanding about how radio communications work, spend a little bit of time researching the public safety trunked radio system that services Broward County and the municipalities within the county to find out what it does, what the capabilities are, the sheer numbers of subscribers that are on the radio system, all the mutual aid that it will support for any first responders that have to respond to the county from outside the area and most importantly, what is the coverage and what is the reliability of coverage.

  • John

    May 24, 2021 at 11:29 am

    The MX Motorola was the best. I understand what you are saying about reliability but the two companies drive up costs 10x what they should be. We use the cheap chi com for militia use. Battle use and you know what. No failures. In water and high impact use. Battery life is the only issue as they decay with each charge. The Broward system was a full trough for the corrupt companies to feed from. The loosers are the taxpayers. I am sorry but $6000 radios our town is forced to use are total corruption. The clown wrote up a bid with specifications that are a high bar for all the rest. A good duty radio should be about $500. As you know it is the quality of the repeater network that is what makes any system work. Private companies spend a fraction for mission critical radios. The $6000 a copy radios are a criminal enterprise. This should be investigated bu FBI and appropriate RICO charges filed. Hard jail time and asset foreforture for all persons and companies involved in raping taxpayers.

Comments are closed.


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