Four north Fulton Cities will pay Commdex Consulting $200,000 to manage a new public safety radios system.
But Commdex’s earlier involvement as a consultant for the radio project has drawn criticism from city of Johns Creek officials.
Commdex Vice President of Operations Chuck Bethea says that Commdex’s role in the project has been misrepresented by Johns Creek and the media.
Johns Creek was supposed to partner with Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta and Milton to establish the radio system. Johns Creek backed out of the public safety radios project in January, citing concerns related to Commdex and the process used to select the equipment provider for the radio system.
Sandy Springs City Council during its June 4 meeting officially endorsed awarding the management contract to Commdex. Commdex won the management contract in a competitive bid process, Sandy Springs Public Safety Director Terry Sult said.
Sult said Commdex received the management contract after the city considered proposals from three bidders. One of the bidders, ACD Telecom, withdrew. Commdex and Kessler Gehman Associates were the remaining bidders.
Commdex offered the low bid of $198,950, Sult said.
“I can tell you the four cities involved in the project don’t have an issue with the process that we used,” Sult said. “All the councils and attorneys’ staff have vetted it and approved it. I’m confident that we followed the correct and appropriate legal and transparent process.”
Johns Creek officials left the radio project because they were wary of Commdex’s relationship with Motorola Solutions, the company the cities selected to provide the radios.
Commdex is a reseller for Motorola Solutions.
The cities in September 2012 hired Commdex as a consultant to develop the plan for the radio system. Johns Creek officials alleged that Commdex, in its role as a project consultant, recommended the cities buy the equipment from Motorola. The cities agreed to buy from Motorola without going through a public bid process.
Bethea said when the cities hired Commdex as the project consultant that they already had a proposal from Motorola in hand. Bethea said Commdex was asked to evaluate that proposal.
“The proposal that was given to Sandy Springs was sufficient to their needs,” Bethea said. “That’s the only proposal that that we evaluated.”
Bethea also said Commdex’s earlier involvement in the project wouldn’t have given the company an advantage when it bid on the management contract.
He said his company informed Motorola what it thought should be in the Request for Proposal for the management contract, and that Motorola published something different in the RFP. The bid specifications in the RFP went out to all three bidders who responded, Bethea said.
Johns Creek officials said the cities should have bid out the equipment contract.
City of Sandy Springs officials have maintained that there was no need for a bid process.
Motorola was selected as a provider through a state bid process, and the cities used the state contract pricing to hire Motorola. City Manager John McDonough said using the state contract pricing saved the cities money.
Bethea said the cities decided not to bid the equipment contract long before Commdex was hired as a consultant.
“There was not a full bid process,” he said. “The cities elected to do that, to run the procurement the way that they did.”
Sult said everything regarding the radio system has been transparent and fair.
“I think the record speaks for itself,” Sult said.