We all know that "failure to communicate" can have disastrous consequences.
Along that line, the SCPR is reminded of this account: (an actual happening)
Father: (as he was - eyes straight ahead - gunning up his car engine to enter onto the Interstate) "Son, are there any cars coming?"
Son: "No, Dad" ... (a momentary pause) ... "but there is a truck."
"The Rest of the Story" is that Dad brought the car he was driving to a screeching halt!
Fortunately, Dad got the car stopped and thereby avoided what most certainly would have been a disastrous collusion.
So this is a "happy ending" to a momentary "failure to communicate."
Unfortunately, some "failures to communicate" have much more dire consequences.
When Stark County 9-1-1 Project Manager Joe Concatto presented at July 30, 2014 Stark County commissioners meeting recommending that New World Systems be awarded a county contract for Computer Aided Dispatch software upgrade to service emergency needs of 80% of Stark Countians at a cost of nearly $2 million (the initial buy $1.4 million, plus about $500,000 for the first six year of software updates), the SCPR did not "immediately" see any problem with the commissioners accepting the New World bid.
- SCPR Note: The Report urges readers to go to this Wikipedia LINK to get a layman's understanding of CAD systems in order to more fully understand how such systems function
However, in the presentation, Concatto made a passing reference to TAC Systems (located in Bedford, Ohio, in business for 29 years) being too late with its bid and, moreover, in its untimely bid did not meet all of the specifications (about 160 pages long) in a RFQ (request for quotation) put together by Concatto and a group he describes as being the Stark County CAD Project Team.
End of story, no?
Not for the Stark County Political Report.
As The Report is apt to do, in developing material for future blogs, The Report earlier this week, engaged a person in background-esque conversation; a person of considerable knowledge about emergency services communications, about the suitability of the New World System for Stark County.
"There is a much better value out there and it is the one produced by TAC Computer of Bedford and, get this, AT A FRACTION OF New World System's cost." (paraphrase)
This perked up the SCPR's ears big time.
The clear implication of what The Report was hearing is that Stark County (i.e. the Sheriff's dispatch, the Canton Communications' dispatch and the RED [Regional Emergency Dispatch] dispatch could have been brought up to "state-of-art" by TAC's system at a tremendous savings to Stark County taxpayers.
If the implication turns out to be borne out, what it could have meant - in the opinion of the SCPR - is that a county purchase of TAC's system could have been provided to all eight Stark County PSAPs. (PSAP, public safety answering point).
If so, the taxpayer dollar savings to political subdivisions (Stark's cities, villages, townships and school districts) could magnify the initial savings that purchase of TAC Systems' product might have brought to the county's taxpayers.
And, of course, if the subdivisions sign on with the county - which The Report thinks would be likely - because they get services at little or no cost to them, then - what does Stark County end up with, perhaps?
How about a "true" countywide emergency dispatch system!
As the SCPR talked to the TAC representative, it became intriguing that TAC's proposal would have computer servers on site at each of Stark's 8 PSAPs which, if The Report understands the import of such a hardware configuration, provides "redundancy galore" which would be to ensure that Stark's citizens can get emergency system contact even if a number of the PSAPs are wiped out by a disaster of whatever nature.
As the SCPR understands the New World System configuration planned by the county's emergency services gurus, the Sheriff's dispatch will be linked to the Canton Communications Center by telephone line.
Such is the configuration is challenged by TAC's representative as not being the best model of protection for Stark Countians.
The concern of some CAD specialists, as the SCPR understands it, is that a telephone line connection between centers is, perhaps, "the most vulnerable" piece (in terms of frequency of failure) in having only two PSATs and therefore is "the weak link" in the Stark County plan as presently set to be implemented in the next nine months or so.
Speaking of "nine months or so" as being the implementation date, The Report says that inasmuch as Alliance and Canton already have the TAC system (which, The Report hears, are both pleased in the performance of) in place that getting TAC in place across Stark County could take place much sooner than nine months.
Remember, the New World System initially is only to include the Sheriff's dispatch, the Canton Communications Center dispatch and the RED Center dispatch, which, again, the SCPR thinks will only cover about 80% of Stark's approximate 380,000 population.
It could turn out that readers of the SCPR, at the end of this series, will think that Project Manager Concatto's recommendation and the commissioners' acting on the recommendation was the best thing for the use of the $2.35 million
- (money left over from the 9-1-1 share of "imposed" [by a previous board of commissioners] sales tax increase monies; since rolled back)
But it may be that after the SCPR gets through its detailed examination of the process of getting to the approval of the New World bid that Stark Countians will conclude that there was indeed a failure of communications which cost the county's taxpayers dearly.
For starters, the SCPR provides a copy (in the appendix section of this blog at the very end) of the TAC Systems proposal so that readers can get some idea (which, remember, may or may not be fully compliant with bid specs) of what is involved in doing an upgrade.
The Report has also provided Commissioner Janet Creighton (requesting that she share it with Commissioners Bernabei and Regula, Bernabei was on vacation this week) with a copy of the TAC proposal (dated July 21, 2014) which she says she has never seen. The SCPR does not know at this point whether or not Commissioners Bernbei and Regula have been privy to the TAC letter.
- SCPR Note: The one thing Creighton did muse on upon glancing at the TAC proposal was the fact that TAC's proposal was well past the bid submission/open date (January 13, 2013) which it seems to The Report makes is so late that it has to be difficult for the commissioners or Concatto or anybody else to second guess themselves.
To the SCPR, the inquiry is not about fairness to TAC. The dates of speak for themselves. TAC Computer has had ample opportunity to get it bid in on time, to wit:
- On October 31, 2012 the County released a Request for Competitive Sealed Proposals for a Computer Aided Dispatching System and a Mobile Data Computer System (all dates per Concatto letter to SCPR, August 8, 2014, a copy of which will be annexed to the next blog in this series),
- On November 19, 2012 "we sent out an addendum to this Proposal to all thirteen vendors including TAC Computer," and, finally
- January 17, 2013, "Nine of the thirteen potential vendors submitted a bid for this project and the bids were opened ... . TAC Computer did not submit a bid." (Ibid, per Concatto letter)
The fact of the matter is that Concatto and his CAD Project Team had in hand a TAC Computer commitment to provide a state-of-the-art CAD system that has the potential (because it so comparatively cheaper) for Stark true countywide system.
The SCPR has learned that Project Manager and Commissioner Bernabei has met with at least one political subdivision and been told the TAC system - because of affordability and its integration factor - was the way to go if most if not all of Stark County's villages, cities, townships and ultimately school systems were going to go countywide.
The Report thinks somebody - not sure whom - dropped the ball on getting the word to commissioners about possibility that TAC Computer's CAD might be the perfect fit before they voted on July 30th to go with New World.
The Report did not - the past Monday - seek Creighton's immediate reaction (beyond the volunteered cited observation above) on her quick glance at the TAC proposal as it was handed to her.
Hopefully, even though TAC clearly did not meet the bidding deadlines; after the commissioners have digested the "late" proposal in its detailed entirety, they will give a detailed account as to why the TAC system is not the merited one, in their judgment, for the hoped for, one day in the future, countywide system.
Though the commissioners and Concatto appeared to have properly and completely complied with bidding procedures, the SCPR thinks it is not helpful to maintain public confidence in the processes of county government for officials not to explain why they would not want to save a million or more dollars.
The Report trusts that commissioners' review will not boil down to being a case of "standing on ceremony" (i.e. TAC's failure to bid timely closes the book on the commissioners taking a further look). There may be substantive reasons why - even if submitted timely - that TAC's proposal could not qualify to be awarded the CAD contract. If so, Stark Countians ought to know that such is the case and in comparative detail: point-by-point!
Because the Board of Stark County Commissioners in the Bernabei and Creighton era of has been one of the most open, accessible, accountable and communicative in all the history of Stark County; one would think they would want to answer those who are criticizing the exclusion of the "late" TAC Computer bid; and not rely on "open and shut case" mentality that TAC failed to comply with deadlines.
After all, a million or more county taxpayer dollars might have been at stake, if the TAC numbers are real numbers. And, the server at every PSAP site seems to be a super-secure system when compared to having only two servers connected via telephone line connection, no?
The Report already has had extensive discussion with TAC, with Stark's GIS personnel and others involved in the upgrade process.
Moreover, the SCPR has been following the 9-1-1 rehab project and its many, many, many twists and turns from the beginning days of this blog (March 12, 2008).
It was encouraging to hear at the Stark County commissioners' July 30th meeting for Concatto say that Commissioner Tom Bernabei understands the issues inherent in upgrading a CAD system as well as he - Concatto - does, if not more so.
As SCPR readers know, The Report is well taken with the current board of county commissioners.
Bernabei, for intellect, his inquiring mind and being a stickler for rational explanations of why this or that thing should be accepted as being "the truth of the matter" or alternative "the best way to go."
Creighton, for her entertaining enthusiasm mode of being a public official and her bluntness, that is to say her directness (no punches pulled) in relation to other public officials who she thinks might have their own interests as a priority rather than the public interest.
Regula, for his tenacious holding onto projects he holds near and dear, seeking enduring solutions, (e.g. the county's drainage problem) and the experience by virtue of having served previously (2003 through 2006) as a county commissioner.
If it turns out that some, if not most, Stark Countians, at the conclusion of this series, think that the commissioners in their July 30, 2014 decision did not get the best value for the county in terms of:
- pricing, and
- technological setup (e.g. a server at each PSAP)
Though Commissioner Bernabei is very knowledgeable on CADs and PSAPs and GIS, it clear to the SCPR that he - as the commissioners point man on the matter - is relying on his in-house (i.e. Stark County government's, more or less, technical experts) 9-1-1 resources in agreeing or disagreeing with the recommendation of Project Manager Joe Concatto.
There is no doubt with the SCPR that Commissioners Creighton and Regula hang on Bernbei's analyses. (reference Concatto's testament to Bernabei's knowledge base) And, it could be, that Concatto's and Bernabei's analysis is "spot on" and the New World system is the best value (in all the connotations of the phrase) for Stark County and they did the right thing for Stark's taxpayers.
As of this Part I of this series is published today, The Report is uncertain as to where this SCPR inquiry will end up in context of the public perception.
When it is all said and done, will the public be reassured that the commissioners in the context the assistance of their numerous county/city/township government advisers (i.e. the CAD Project Team) on July 30 made a cost effective and a "quality of system" decision?
Or, will the public think that the attraction of "standing on ceremony" (i.e. the timeliness of bid submission) notwithstanding, the commissioners should have paused in the bid awarding process to deal with the "late" - but before the decision date - TAC Computer proposal?
As always, The Report's posture is to "let the chips fall where they may." However, for that phenomenon to take hold, Stark County taxpayers need to know the identity of the chips and that is the mission of the SCPR in this series.
More specifically, the mission is to ferret out chapter and verse considerations, deliberations and the knowledge base information that may have factored into whether or not "in the end" there was a "failure in communication" which may have resulted in costing Stark County taxpayers $1 million plus, had more integration and may have been a lure to bring all political subdivisions together into one totally complete countywide system.
If there was a "failure in communication and the savings to been realized had the county gone with TAC Computer in an "apples to apples" comparison is now lost, the SCPR thinks that Stark Countians need to know such was the case.
Maybe the SCPR's inquiry will not establish a consensus on the matter.
Nevertheless our democratic-republican system of governance entitles citizens to ask the hard questions and for the commissioners, Project Team Manager Concatto and the CAD Team member to provide answers.
The SCPR will do its best to dig out those answers.
TAC COMPUTERS "LATE" PROPOSAL
July 21, 2014
Stark County 911 Project Manager
221 Third St. SW
Canton, OH 44702
I wanted to reach out to Stark County regarding the new TAC Enterprise Public Safety System. As all communities are feeling the economic crunch reducing and improving efficiency is more important than ever. I thought you may want to reconsider the proven, innovative and cost effective Tac Enterprise Public Safety System, I would like to meet with you to discuss our system. Our entire CAD, RMS, Jail Management , Mobile system with report writing E-Cites, mapping with GPS and AVL, and CJIS interface, can be leased with support for only $12,000.00 per year per PSAP and optionally between $3,000.00 and $7,500.00 per year per police/sheriff records system with minimal upfront cost. All agencies could utilize the included TAC mobile system. The Stark County Sheriff could easily work with and share CAD, RMS, and Jail data with other Stark County agencies. We will expand our Stark County CJIS interfaces to eliminate all the current dual data entry. Canton and Alliance currently hawe the TAC Enterprise CAD in place so they have no additional costs to participate in a county wide system.
The four new regional dispatch centers in Cuyahoga County have ail selected TAC as their CAD vendor. The majority of Cuyahoga County will soon be sharing CAD data because all TAC clients, CAD, RMS, and MDTs communicate with each other. I don’t believe you will find any other system that provides this level of integration at any cost.
Please do not hesitate to reach me any time at 440-567-6968 to further discuss our systems.