continued County attorney Dan Manning said the county did not have to go with the lowest RFP bidder.
“The whole purpose of an RFP is to give you flexibility in purchasing so you do not have to go with the lowest bidder if there are other considerations that sway you to go with another provider,” Manning said. “They had a higher level of training so (purchasing officer) Linda Wolf felt they were the better option.”
Palmer said the county had also worked previously on this and other projects with Wells.
“Linda designed a point system like she did for every RFP,” Palmer said. “What she really looks at is training, experience and experience with the county. Honestly, experience with the county means a lot with an RFP because you have a track record with the company. She came up with an objective point system that said we should go with Wells Communications.”
Palmer said there could also be problems if two companies were working on separate aspects of the project.
“If you have two people, one working on the radio and the other working on the install, if there is something wrong you are going to have the radio people say it is in the install and the install people saying that it is in the radio,” Palmer said. “This is a step in the process of a $17 million project. We wanted to find the most qualified people we could to install those radios into the trucks. That is a key part of the process because if you have a bad install then you have a bad system.”
Morrow said the county should make sure it gets the best work possible to avoid future issues.
“We are going to look foolish if we save 29,000 and we have no radio communications in all of Essex County because it goes down,” Morrow said. “We looked good saving those few dollars when we decided to leave some stuff off of the public safety building, but now we look foolish not putting the ‘penthouses’ on the top protect the heating and air and it is costing us a lot of money.”