Harris has informed the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) that the land-mobile-radio (LMR) manufacturer plans to protest the state’s recent intent to award Motorola Solution a contract to build a statewide P25 network that is expected to be worth more than $200 million, according to Harris officials.

Last Tuesday, the Florida DMS announced that its selection of Motorola Solutions to build the new statewide P25 system, which would replace the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) that was built and maintained by Florida-based Harris, although the company operated under the M/A-COM and Tyco monikers during the early years of the system.

Max Green, vice president of sales for Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications (PSPC), confirmed that Harris plans to protest the award to Motorola Solutions.

“We already submitted our intent to protest on Friday,” Green said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

Harris is required to file its formal protest by Monday, March 26, according to Green. After receiving the protest, the state will embark on a “lengthy process” to review the merits of the Harris filing that likely will take several months to complete, he said.

In addition, Green noted that the state needs to determine how to pay for the proposed P25 statewide system.

“There is no money to support this,” in the current state budget, Green said.

Danielle Marcella, senior regional sales manager for Harris PSPC, echoed this sentiment.

“This is really a complicated situation. It’s not as simple as just winning an award,” Marcella said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Nobody’s really won or lost anything right now—it’s a totally unfunded contract.”

Identifying a funding source for the proposed P25 system will be the responsibility of state lawmakers, most of which will be elected in November. Legislators also will be working with a new governor, as current Gov. Rick Scott is completing his second term in office and is ineligible to run for governor in November.

In its request for proposals (RFP), the state of Florida has structured the contract in manner that required bidders to execute “essentially a forklift of a system that has served the state well for the past 15 years,” Green said. During that period, the SLERS has provided Florida first responders with radio communications during a variety of emergency situations, including 11 hurricanes, he said.

The current SLERS contract is funded by revenues collected from a $1 fee collected from vehicle registrations that generated a total of about $18 million annually in recent years—a figure that does not cover Harris’ costs to own and operate the system, Green said. The proposed P25 system would be more expensive, Green said.

Awarded to M/A-COM in 2001, the SLERS is an 800 MHz proprietary EDACS digital system that provides 98% mobile coverage throughout Florida’s geography, including 25 miles off the state’s coasts, according to Marcella. It also is designed to deliver 95% portable coverage in specified areas of the state—primarily more densely populated areas—and includes a 700 MHz P25 overlay that is used primarily to support communications with public-safety aircraft, she said.