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.