Lake County panel goes back to bidding process for E-911 radio equipment
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 29, 2013 8:24PM
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:33AM
ST. JOHN — E-911 Commission members are going back to the bidding process for the equipment for the consolidated E-911 center and the back-up dark site.
On Thursday the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission decided to seek requests for proposals for the equipment for a second time under the guidance of the new E-911 director, Brian Hitchcock.
The Lake County Board of Commissioners last week approved hiring a consultant to help Hitchcock prepare an expedited request for proposals. E-911 Commission members earlier this year had moved to use the state quantity purchase agreement for the radio equipment after a failed request for proposals attempt by the former technical consultant left them closing in on the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline without another six to eight months to go through the process again.
The state purchasing program is list compiled after a competitive bidding process. Government agencies can use that to secure the lowest price without having to go out to bid. Police departments routinely use the state program to purchase vehicles.
Herbert Cruz, East Chicago Emergency Management Agency director, said after the first request for proposals attempt failed, E-911 commission members were concerned they would not be able to create another request for proposals and have vendors respond in enough time to meet the Dec. 31, 2014, consolidation deadline, so they opted to use the state purchasing program, as several other counties in the state have done to facilitate their consolidation. The E-911 panel can make a recommendation to the county commissioners but the decision to use the state purchasing program or a request for proposals is ultimately theirs.
Hitchcock on Thursday said the consultant, Mazzitello Professional Services of Spring Valley, Wis., will have a kickoff meeting to extrapolate the wants and needs of the county for the consolidated E-911 center, conduct fields studies to assess equipment inventory and needs and compile the request for proposals. The company is expected to have the request for proposals ready in about two months.
“We are trying to put this on the fast track. Typically an RFP can take quite a while,” Hitchcock said.
Vendors will have 30 days to respond. The E-911 commission will set up a committee to score the responses before members vote on a recommendation. That recommendation will be forwarded to Lake County Board of Commissioners for approval. Hitchcock said he would like to have a recommendation by the end of the year.