DENVER (KDVR) – A Denver District Court judge has said the Colorado State Patrol violated its own procurement process by awarding Axon a lucrative contract for a body camera.
Either way, Axon got the contract anyway, much to the frustration of a joint partnership group named Brite-Getac, who sued the Colorado Department of Public Safety and the Colorado State Patrol.
“It’s going to cost taxpayers more and they get a worse technical product,” said Steve Cave, an attorney representing Brite-Getac.
The joint partnership sued in Denver District Court after failing to win the state contract, which provides for equipping 750 soldiers with body cameras and dashboard cameras in their patrol vehicles.
On August 19, Judge Andrew McCallin ruled that “the award violated the procurement code” and awarded the legal costs to Brite Computers.
Cave provided Problem Solvers with copies of documents submitted to the state of Colorado, suggesting that the Brite-Getac offer would cost the state $ 6.1 million over five years, compared to $ 8.3 million for Axon.
The Colorado Department of Public Safety did not provide any documents to problem solvers, but instead emailed a spreadsheet suggesting that Brite-Getac was cheaper. It was only by a small margin of $ 4.25 million for Brite-Getac versus $ 5 million for Axon.
Scorecards show Axon is ranked lower
The scoring sheets submitted to the judge showed that Brite-Getac obtained a higher score in the technical evaluation: 801 points for Brite-Getac against 775 points for Axon.
But the judge did not have the power to force the Colorado State Patrol to change its mind about the contract award. Instead, Justice McCalllin could not order the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration to “determine whether the best interests of the state require ratification, termination or cancellation of the award.”
On September 2, the department’s executive director, Kara Veitch, issued a letter “to ratify the award to Axon.”
“You’ve got a rule violation and Colorado doesn’t care, we’re going to keep breaking the rules. It’s harder to speculate on what’s going on behind the scenes,” Cave said.
Col. Matthew Packard, head of the Colorado State Patrol, told Judge McCallin the move was not as sweeping as Brite-Getac might suggest.
“With all due respect to the judge, I would characterize it as a technical violation,” Packard said.
Judge: CSP chose a model not yet on the market
Packard rejected any suggestion that the Colorado State Patrol had shown favoritism towards Axon.
“I can tell you unequivocally that there was no agreement behind the scenes, that we started this process in search of the best supplier who would provide the best value for the people of Colorado,” said Packard.
When told that Brite-Getac insisted he could save Colorado taxpayers $ 2 million over 5 years, Packard replied, “I question their calculations.”
Packard told Problem Solvers that Axon offered certain financial benefits that could make the final cost difference of just 1% over the term of the contract. He added that Axon was better value because he said he performed better during 40 days of field testing.
“Our folks who apply for registration, who have to write videos for all of these types of things, said that a product didn’t help them become more efficient, it actually slowed them down. The other product was easy to use and made them more effective, ”Packard said.
In an interview with FOX31 investigative reporter Rob Low, Packard acknowledged that there were a number of things that Axon’s product, known as “Fleet 2,” even s ‘They were listed as a requirement in the original Request for Proposal (RFP).
Fleet 2 does not have a radar interface, it did not meet field of view requirements, and it did not activate the dash cam or body camera when a soldier braked or turned on the light bar and siren of a patrol car.
“But they provided other technological solutions that met those requirements, for example, GPS tracking on cars that can measure rapid acceleration, deceleration, speed, that sort of thing,” Packard replied.
The Brite-Getac lawsuit argued that the Colorado State Patrol relied primarily on technology based on what Axon had promised its new product, “Fleet 3,” could do – even though the original offering was based on “Fleet 2”.
Court transcripts reviewed by problem solvers showed the judge found that the Colorado State Patrol appeared to choose Axon based on Fleet 3’s potential over Fleet 2’s capabilities, and that the state had violated its own rules in choosing a product – Fleet 3 – it never tested in the field.
Tammy Lichvar, director of purchasing for the Colorado Department of Public Safety, appeared to raise this same concern in a December 16, 2020 email when she wrote, “How do you write a contract for a ‘future version’? I don’t feel comfortable writing a million dollar contract for something that is not on the market.
Asked about some of Lichvar’s emails, Packard replied, “She was doing her job in my opinion. She interviewed the people involved in this process and made sure we followed all the rules. “
Packard insisted that is exactly what her agency did when she used her discretion to go with Axon.
“We knew we would be good with Fleet 2. We were very impressed with this product compared to what the other vendor had to offer. If Fleet 3 worked it would be fine, but we were comfortable with Fleet 2, ”Packard said.
“What can stop a purchasing manager? “
But Cave, attorney Brite-Getac, said that was what the Colorado State Patrol argued in court, and added that was the reason the judge found that the CSP and CDPS had violated the rules of its own procurement process.
“I mean if, at the end of the day, if you can break the law and continue to break the law despite finding a violation of the law, then what will stop a purchasing manager from making a decision?” without any foundation? Cave said.
Even though Colorado law allows the state to choose the supplier of its choice, even if the procurement process is violated, the state will have to pay legal costs to Brite Computers, which could cost $ 150,000. to taxpayers.
Under a law passed in 2020, every law enforcement agency in Colorado will be required to have body cameras by July 1, 2023.
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