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Rockdale bid process on new 911 radio system questioned

CONYERS -- Some residents disapprove of the way Rockdale County is seeking an upgrade to its 911 radio system.

Steven Macke, a Rockdale County resident, said at Monday's 2011 SPLOST Oversight Committee meeting that the Request For Proposal for the radio system caters to a specific contractor.

"The RFP is written in such a way to create a sole source contract," Macke said. "It requires technology that only one supporter has made."

Macke said he is a technology consultant and a former staff consultant at the Georgia Tech Research Institute where he specilized in public safety communications. He also spoke to the Board of Commissioners during public comment time at a recent meeting. Macke said he is questioning the county's RFP because he believes it will cost the county more in the long run and not provide the upgrade desired.

Bill Hughey, chairman of the emergency service/911 subcommittee, said bids for the project must be submitted no later than 2 p.m. Oct. 13. The committee hopes to bring the final contract before the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners in December.

Allan Jones, vice-chair of the SPLOST committee, said the committee cannot discuss the details of the RFP because it is in the bidding process.

"As long as it is out in the public for bid we are not in any position to make a public comment on it," Jones said.

The SPLOST committee recommended that the county perform an RFP process to update the 911 radio system infrastructure in June. The cost will be $4,575,800 and funded through the current 1-percent sales tax program.

However, Macke told the committee the system will cost more.

Macke cited Gwinnett County and Charleston County, S.C., as examples of systems that have been over the projected budget. According to Macke, Charleston County's system, which began construction in 2005, is $16 million over budget and has not yet been completed.

"I believe it is ill-conceived and needs immediate attention," Macke said.

The new system does not allow for public safety personnel to communicate while inside buildings, according to Macke.

He said the system the county has requested is also out of date and is not compatible with Rockdale's closest neighbors, though it is compatible to other metro area counties.

"Why are we asking for a Phase 1 technology when companies are taking orders for Phase 2 technologies today?" Macke said. "The (Phase 1) technology will be discontinued long before the life of this (Phase 2) technology. Why would Rockdale County want to be back in this very position in 10 years or less to spend millions and millions of more tax payer dollars?"