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.

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Companies: connect florida, connected nation, isc

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Comments on “Questions Raised As To Why Connected Nation Selected In Florida Despite Costing More Than Double”

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25 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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!

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

art (profile) says:

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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