FirstNet May Alter Final RFP after Feedback

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) may alter its final request for proposals (RFP) after getting feedback from parties after it is released at the end of this year, a FirstNet official said today during a session at the APCO 2015 show. James Mitchell, senior program manager-operations for FirstNet, unveiled a planned timeline leading up to the submission of offeror proposals in response to the final RFP. An industry day is scheduled for Aug. 27.

Sections of the RFP are scheduled to be finalized in September and the board will be briefed on the document in October. In November, FirstNet plans to hold a pre-solicitation conference. “We’re going to be very open and transparent about the contents of the RFP prior to the release,” Mr. Mitchell said of the event. Internal review of the final RFP package will also take place that month.

After the RFP is released by Dec. 31, FirstNet plans to ask parties to submit questions about it in February and then FirstNet plans to respond to those questions in March. In the April-May timeframe, there would be a pre-proposal conference. Proposals would be due sometime after that. Mr. Mitchell noted that the timeline is purposely vague.

Mr. Mitchell also said that FirstNet is pleased with the responses that it got to the draft RFP and special notice released in April (TRDailly, April 27), saying in particular that capabilities statements that were submitted have “been very helpful … to validate some of our approaches.”

He also noted that FirstNet received more than 650 questions about the draft RFP and special notice, including in writing and during an industry day held in May (TRDaily, May 14).

“The user sort of wasn’t in the spotlight of the questioning,” he said. “And that’s understandable. This is a business venture.”

“But we looked at the documents ourselves, and perhaps we have not represented the user enough,” he added. “So moving forward with the RFP content, we need to be very mindful of where the focus is and what our audience is asking.”

Mr. Mitchell also said that FirstNet wants to ensure that data submitted to FirstNet by states “has a home in the RFP and in subsequent attached documentation.”

Brian Hobson, FirstNet’s technical leader-state plans, said that any data that is submitted to FirstNet or refined after a Sept. 30 deadline would still be reflected in draft state plans.

Also, Mr. Mitchell said that a series of vendor meetings with FirstNet representatives began this week. In response to a question from TRDaily this morning Michael Poth, FirstNet’s new chief executive officer, declined to discuss the meetings.

Meanwhile, in remarks at an APCO 2015 breakfast this morning, TJ Kennedy, who is serving in the role of FirstNet president even though the position must be posted (see separate story), cited progress that the authority has made in the past year, including in completing initial consultations with 46 states and territories, releasing several public notices and the draft RFP and special notice, and coordinating more closely with FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC).During that time, FirstNet has worked “to grow enthusiasm for the network,” Mr. Kennedy said.

“The input and feedback that we receive from all of you is what will make this network successful,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure that this dialogue never ends – even when the network is fully up and operational.” – Paul Kirby,