Questions Raised As To Why Connected Nation Selected In Florida Despite Costing More Than Double

from the doesn't-look-good... dept

We've already discussed how Washington DC darling Connected Nation appears more and more like a telco sponsored boondoggle to control gov't mapping mandates and collect gov't money, without having to give up real data on broadband access. But, for some reason, politicians just seem to love Connected Nation (CN). Last time I was in DC, it was all anyone was talking about concerning broadband policy. However, there are more and more questions being raised now. Apparently, Connected Nation got a big win in Florida recently, despite the fact that its bid for mapping was more than double the next runner up, ISC. Connect Florida -- a brand new "affiliate" of Connected Nation, bid $7.1 million. ISC, which is actually based in Florida and has worked with Florida gov't agencies in the past, bid $2.8 million. ISC used references for its actual work on the ground in Florida, including "the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Agriculture and two local businesses, including an Economic Development Council. The ISC application also listed 11 contracts the company has with Florida state agencies." Connect Florida, on the other hand, named out-of-state references who were involved in other Connected Nation projects, raising questions about Connect Florida's understanding of the Florida market. So how did Connect Florida win?
According to sources, one of the five judges gave ISC the win, with an eight-point differential over CN. Two other judges gave CN a two-point win. One other judge gave CN a 15-point win over ISC. Yet in another curiosity, one judge gave CN a 51-point win. That judge was Bill Price, currently the broadband stimulus program manager for the state of Florida, a position he has held for the past three months. According to his profile on the Linked-In social networking site, Price was vice president for business development for BellSouth Business.
Remember how Connected Nation is really closely connected to the telcos? And a former telco exec who only recently got the state gov't job suddenly happens to rate it up massively over the second place competitor? Doesn't that at least raise some ethics questions? Perhaps there's more to it, and perhaps there are good reasons why Connect Florida is better than ISC. But it sure does seem like Florida owes the public an explanation of what those good reasons might be.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:40pm

    Okay, so let's go with the cheaper bid, and then they can come back a month later with 8 million in "unexpected overruns".

    You can find a conspiracy under every rock if you look hard enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Re:

    I suppose you can assume that the government is perfectly benevolent and never does anything wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    rjk (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    You can find a conspiracy under every rock if you look hard enough.

    Turns out in this case Mike didn't have to look to hard.

    How hard will it be to find out if you are as corrupt as Bill Price?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:55pm

    Re:

    The fact is that most of the time the conspiracy theorists turn out to be right. If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Re:

    I think the point Mike is trying to make is that, as a rule, we shouldn't allow people with such likely conflicts of interest in subject matters involving law and government funding to have so much influence over such subject matters. You wouldn't want a doctor giving you recommendations and writing prescriptions if he has a conflict of interest with pharmaceutical corporations and if he gets paid more money for favoring certain drugs over others. The government should be accountable to the people and the people should not tolerate such a strong potential for conflicts of interest.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    ..., Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    Re:

    Oh, well - there it is - perfect rational for going with the highest bidder

    Excellent!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    Probably because the alternative, ISC, wouldn't include block-by-block uber-cool room 641As

    They say this Bill Price worked for BellSouth Business. But remember, it's is now a part of the nation's most friendly telecoms company, Whittacre Communications, a wholly owned unit of General Motors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    "According to sources, one of the five judges gave ISC the win, with an eight-point differential over CN. Two other judges gave CN a two-point win. One other judge gave CN a 15-point win over ISC. Yet in another curiosity, one judge gave CN a 51-point win."

    Now, let's to the math. After Judge 1, CN -8. After judges 2 + 3, CN-4, after judge 3, CN +11. So no matter what, even if Judge 5 gave only 1 point higher, the choice was already made.

    What would be more interesting would be to see why such a wide swing (excluding the wild +51) from -8 to +15. I would appear that perhaps 3 of the judges were on the take or similar, no?

    If you are going to go all Tin Foil Hat on this, do it right!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:59pm

    Deep Magic Begins Here...

    So if the FCC or Government agency would have created the maps, they would have be works of the Government. But because they are created in a black box, no one can figure out how they are generated, what statistics go in and such.

    Sounds like the way I'd do it, if say, I really just wanted to get rebuild divested parts of my network due to large mergers and such, and get taxpayers to pay for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    What?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re:

    I said you are ugly and your mother dresses you funny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    lol

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Captain Obvious, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    And you can put a rock over every conspiracy if you try hard enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Captain Obvious, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    And you can put a rock over every conspiracy if you try hard enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Captain Obvious, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    And you can put a rock over every conspiracy if you try hard enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Captain Obvious, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    Sorry, didn't mean to triple post. Page was loading wonky.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    kirillian (profile), Aug 29th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re:

    Also, if it floats like a duck...then it must be a witch!!

    Seriously, though...legitimate questions have been raised in this case about the honesty, transparency, and apparent conflicts of interest in this case. I'd say that a LOT of explanation is needed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re:

    "it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck ..." But wait, if it's a duck, aren't we supposed to sue the shit out of it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Who are the other 4 judges? Why aren't they named? The voting was wide enough in both directions to wonder.

     

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  20.  
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    Thomas (profile), Aug 29th, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    not a surprise

    bribery and connections always get the upper hand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 30th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re:

    Also simply that if there is an obvious potential conflict of interest, as there is here, that the public needs added transparency in the decision making process if they are ever going to trust the decision.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 7:42am

    We have the best government

    that money can buy.
    This excludes none of the three branches here in the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    art (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 7:56am

    the entire picture

    First, the problem was that the "winning" bid was twice as high as the second-place bid, and that the "winning" bid had no local references or experience. That should have raised a flag.

    Second, the judges spread frankly raised questions. One judge gave CN a 15 point win (82-67). Two judges gave CN a 2-point win (82-80 and 92-96). One judge have ISC an 8-point win (75-83). And then Mr. Price gave CN a 51-point win (93-42). That's an outlier, no matter how you look at it, and it should be looked at.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Jeremy, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 1:17pm

    Re:

    So, original AC, you're saying CN, will only cost $7.1M and there's NO way that they'll go over budget?

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 31st, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    Re:

    You're right about cost over-runs being common, but government RFP rules generally state that they must go with the cheaper bid. So why, in this case, did they go with one twice as high?

    When I compared a Honda Pilot against an Acura MDX priced much higher, I needed to quantify the advantages of spending more. In the absence of advantages, I would certainly choose the cheaper option. The people who are paying the bill deserve to know why the higher option was chosen. Common sense like that should also apply to the state of Florida.

    A corollary to your conclusion is: You can fail to find every conspiracy if you don't ask the obvious questions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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