Sex offender tracking dispute resolved
The state adjusts specs for new devices needed under the Jessica Lunsford Act, putting a bidder back in the running.
By STEVE BOUSQUET
Published July 26, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - Florida prison officials on Monday changed the terms for a new program to monitor sex offenders, saying they had "inadvertently" narrowed competition for the work.
The latest action by the Department of Corrections prompted a Houston company, Satellite Tracking of People (STOP), to drop a bid protest and allow the $4-million program to meet a Sept. 1 deadline imposed by the Legislature.
"We realized we inadvertently narrowed the field, and we didn't want to exclude anybody," department spokesman Robby Cunningham said. "The whole idea from day one has been to make this as open as possible."
The expanded electronic monitoring program is one part of the Jessica Lunsford Act, passed by the Legislature and named for the 9-year-old Homosassa girl who was abducted and killed in February.
As part of the program, the state will use satellite technology to place hundreds more sex offenders under electronic surveillance, some of them for the rest of their lives.
STOP, with the support of Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, complained that earlier bidding terms thwarted open competition by preventing the state from buying STOP's one-piece device, called BluTag. The company's protest brought the program's timetable to a halt last week.
The new bid provisions released Monday deleted an earlier stipulation that required an electronic tracking device to have a wireless link to a receiver unit. That system is used by one of STOP's competitors, Pro Tech Monitoring of Odessa.
"We appreciate the Department of Corrections for addressing our concerns so that the latest and most effective monitoring system can be considered," STOP's chief executive, Steve Logan, said in a statement.
Another change requires firms to "provide" rather than "directly operate" a center to handle questions and equipment problems. STOP contracts out its call center functions while its competitors operate their own call centers.
Cunningham said the state will open bids Monday and will choose two vendors - one for the state's northern half and one for the south - the next day. The selections will be based on the lowest price, Cunningham said, but a final contract will be based on extensive testing of the equipment.
--Steve Bousquet can be reached at email@example.com
[Last modified July 26, 2005, 01:14:05]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]