DeKalb will redo contract in response to investigation

DeKalb County will put a contract to install police equipment up for bid after a stinging report on government corruption and waste criticized the current deal that was awarded to a company without allowing competitors to submit proposals.

Investigators Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde highlighted the $2.4 million a year contract with Mobile Communications of DeKalb in their Sept. 30 report, saying other companies could have performed the same work for less money. The contract covers installation, repair and removal of two-way radios and other equipment.

Interim DeKalb Police Chief James Conroy originally asked the county to approve Mobile Communications as its preferred vendor, which doesn’t require competitive bids.

Conroy said he requested that the contract go to Mobile Communications because the company is located in DeKalb and it’s a certified installer of Motorola products, which is essential to maintain product warranties.

But the county has now determined that there are other authorized Motorola installers that could do the job, said spokesman Burke Brennan. Mobile Communications didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

“I think competition is important. We can get the lowest price from a reputable vendor,” said Conroy.

DeKalb Chief Procurement Officer Scott Callan said he suspects the county will get a better price as a result, but the amount of potential savings won’t be known until companies make their best offers.

The contract should have been advertised for a bidding process, according to Deputy Procurement Director Yolanda Broome.

“I do not believe in this case that staff performed the necessary due diligence to decide whether the procurement should have been a sole or single source,” Broome wrote in an email. “Motorola advised us at the time that Mobile Communications was the only Motorola-certified vendor in our area, and we relied on that information.”

The investigators' report said Mobile Communications charges the county a total of $2,750 per vehicle to install and remove radio equipment, but two other companies would cost less. Atlanta Communications Company charges $1,500, and Diversified Electronics' price is $1,700, according to the report.

Gwendolyn Mitchell-Byrd, the CEO of Atlanta Communications Company, said she couldn’t verify the investigators’ estimate because costs would depend on the scope of work.

“There’s no communications work that we couldn’t handle,” she said. “I will certainly take a look at it if given the opportunity.”

A representative from Diversified Electronics didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.

After receiving bids, the DeKalb Commission will vote on authorizing a new contract.

“I’m always looking for the best deal for the county,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, the chairwoman of the Budget Committee. “I’m interested in seeing more information so we can make better decisions.”