Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate August 28, 2015

The FirstNet Industry half day was held on Thursday August 27, 2015. I was one of about 250 people in attendance and there were, reportedly, another 150 on the web-cast and/or the phone bridge. The event was a very good show by FirstNet, they certainly had they act together, from the New CEO, the Newly Appointed President, the contracting Officer Terrie Callahan, and the rest of the speakers. Mike Poth, the new CEO did a great job of talking about his interest in helping FirstNet succeed, and the business model, and TJ did a great job of showing why an investment in FirstNet was a better bet for potential bidders than the 600 MHz auctions.

It was an interesting pitch with them pointing out the opportunity that partnering with FirstNet provides both existing commercial networks and others who might be interested in partnering with FirstNet. Other speakers included the folks who are leading the effort to get the RFP out on the street, and one of the most important missing part of the RFP, the criteria for evaluation was talked about, briefly by Terrie Callahan, the Contract officer. She gave us some good input on what was expected but left us all waiting for more which may or may not follow prior to the final release of the RFP. I give FirstNet high marks for this event, well planned, well timed and plenty of time for questions. In fact they were willing to stick around until the last question was asked which they did!

The main issue for me and for a number of the others I talked to is that the message that came from this event could be considered as a major shift in the RFP documents. In an effort to clarify what they wanted in a partner many of the FirstNet speakers, including the top brass and the contract officer said over and over again (paraphrased): We want you to be creative, we want you to reply to the RFP and tell us how you are going to meet the 16 key requirements which we have identified as key to the success of FirstNet from a Public Safety Perspective. So, if I was going to submit a response to the RFP would I wade through the 300+ pages of the document, some of which, at this point, contradict themselves, some of which are missing or do I respond as they are asking me to: List each of the 16 requirements and talk about my solution for obtaining that goal and in fact, all of the goals?

I am confused at this point, there is a lot of verbiage in the RFP but we kept hearing that they want innovative ways to meet these 16 objectives. But at this point I am guessing that if I responded and delivered a document which outlined specific ways to meet and in some cases exceed, all 16 of these requirements I would not meet some of the requirements of the RFP and would be disqualified. As much as FirstNet is trying to help, in some cases they are simply throwing more doubt into the process. If they want innovative ways to meet and provide all of the 16 goals why is the RFP 300 pages long? Again I give high marks to the very dedicated people at FirstNet, it is obvious form listening to all of them that this IS about Public Safety and not about anything else. They truly want to deliver the best network they can with the right choice of partners. However, as I said in my comments, this RFP is NOT about the Feds asking for a fixed price bid for widgets or even a multi-million dollar jet.

It should not be onerous with penalties and other means of insuring that the partner does what is required and it is not about the partners funding FirstNet or the network until there is an income stream to help both the partner (s), Public Safety and FirstNet. The slides from the FirstNet Industry day can be found here: http://www.firstnet.gov/sites/default/files/Aug%2027%20Industry%20Day%20Presentation_0.pdf Have a great week-end! Andy


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