The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has canceled their contract with Freddie Figgers for an improved 911 network after facing criticism for not opening the project up to bidding.
CFTOD Cancels Contract with Figgers Communication
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the District said the contract will be opened to bids at Figgers’ request.
“They [Figgers Communication] do not wish to continue under the current atmosphere and wish to participate in a bidding process instead,” Matthew Oberly, director of external affairs, said Tuesday. “Which is unfortunate as now we will have to start over.”
Figgers requested open bidding in a letter to the District, wishing to “err on the side of caution” and ensure the “best value” for taxpayers.
“We welcome the opportunity for an open bidding process and are confident that it will reveal that our proposal to implement the 911 wireless and VOIP emergency services was very reasonable, with no intention of taking advantage of the District,” Figgers wrote.
District Administrator Glen Gilzean stated the District was investing a million dollars in the new 911 network. The no-bid contract with Figgers Communication was reportedly for $242,500.
WFTV reported earlier this year that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers picked up 80.5% of 911 calls within 10 seconds in June, which is short of the 90% required by state guidelines.
Figgers Communication was able to meet the District’s 120-day timeline to improve the system.
Before canceling the contract, Oberly defended it by saying, “It follows all of the procurement guidelines. It was a critical urgent need.”
Figgers is a member of the Florida Commission on Ethics, appointed in July by Governor Ron DeSantis. At the time, Gilzean was chairperson of the commission, but he resigned in late August after it was discovered had violated a rule of the Commission by taking his job with the District.
Ben Wilcox, research director at Integrity Florida, told Orlando Sentinel that the original deal raised questions about favoritism.
“It’s always better to have a bidding process,” Wilcox said. “I don’t know if this is the only company that could provide these services. You can’t find that out unless you put it out there for a competitive bidding process.”
When Governor Ron DeSantis took over the District formerly known as Reedy Creek, the Government vowed to end “no-bid procurements.” A DeSantis spokesperson declined Orlando Sentinel’s request for comment on the 911 network deal.