Wednesday, June 1, 2016

FirstNet DID NOT get the bids it was looking for? FirstNet blames FAR rules for its inability to create excitement?

Is it just me or has anybody else noticed how quite it has been with FirstNet? Is it anticipation or habitual resignation? The fact is FirstNet put out its RFP with all the fanfare of bromidic party with a bunch of friends you never really got along with. How do you celebrate the coming-out party when everyone has a bitter taste in their own minds? It’s unfortunate that FirstNet has had to play the overachieving nerd boasting about a party that nobody wants to go too. How to make the best of a situation you inherited?

It may be just me, but history demonstrates that had FirstNet gotten the responses and the solution they desired, a solution that would quall the masses, FirstNet would have been singing from the desktop. Instead all we get is the pulling back into the blame-game of having to play by rules that were forced upon them all while promoting the tolerance of a solution that fails to meet all the primary needs of coverage, interoperability, security, cost and self-sustainment.

“FirstNet decided to follow Federal procurement regulations for this RFP.  We did so because it sets an established, proven process for the conduct of complex procurements like this one. It also ensures that the proposal and evaluation process is fair and competitive, and provides a level playing field for all potential offerors.  The rules restrict our ability to publicly discuss source selection information during the evaluation phase.  This applies to topics such as the number of proposals and who submitted them, among other things.  Although we are an open, stakeholder driven organization, this is the only way to ensure the integrity of the procurement process.” (CEO, Mike Poth FirstNet)

The only reason FirstNet has chosen to play by the FAR rules, is because of the lack of transparency from the inaugural team over seeing the creation of FirstNet. Had there not been the insider trading, and clouded limpidity of forward progress, we would not be having this conversation today. Greed for the ability to act without an inclusive solution of the States, and Public Safety, cost FirstNet dearly. For the newly appointed CEO to fall back and proclaim that a carrier solution is the only path forward, set the course of Federal Oversight bolstered the acknowledgment that FirstNet’s duplicity was factual as based on the DOJ and the DOI investigations following the accusations from a sitting board member about the original “400-page plan”. In fact, these astonishing steps were the prelude and cornerstone to how FirstNet has to conduct business today.

The truth to the matter is the complex oversight, now required by congress, has put chains on FirstNet, so much so that the term “independent agency” has been successfully mooted to a non-consequential entity within the Federal Government who is required to follow Federal Acquisiton Requirements – counter to the original plan.  By squashing FirstNet’s “independence” has effectively curtailed its creativity to the point of controversial lameness, so much so that I pity anyone, let alone the current staff, who has to try and make this ship sail – this ship hit its iceberg a long time ago. Do we keep the course and start shoveling out the water of a huge sinking cruise ship; or do we seize the day and set a course with the lifeboats?  

By stating that FirstNet must follow the FAR requirements, only outlines that the party has been officially declared boring and non-receptive to what the overall Public Safety market needs – essentially a party with a bunch of nerds, no women, and no booze. The Federal Government has taken control of FirstNet and has officially cut the balls off of FirstNet’s plan and any hope of a success.

“The rules restrict our ability to publicly discuss source selection information during the evaluation phase.  This applies to topics such as the number of proposals and who submitted them, among other things.” (CEO Mike Poth)

Think of it this way, had FirstNet gotten the responses it was hoping for, I can guarantee you that nobody within FirstNet would be hiding behind rules enforced upon them. The excitement of getting solutions that meet the clients (Public Safety’s) needs, and then-some, would be overwhelming to the point that the official term would be “transparency” for all to see. What federal representative do you know would throttle such a success with their own constituents? Career politicians are made with such announcements. After all, the State of New Hampshire put out its RFP asking for Opt-Out Public Private Partnerships and they received 5 bids -- you would have thought they through a grenade in FirstNet's backyard with all the publicity they received. The market was set a fire following their successful bid. Why haven't we heard anything from FirstNet on its success? Probably because it doesn't exist?

In the end, my bet is that FirstNet did not get what it really wanted. After all, even if FirstNet’s RFP was a big success, the overall business plan, a “top-down” federal subscriber solution, was never going to succeed anyway. Take it from someone who knows how to build these broadband solutions, the best path forward is allowing the States to Opt-Out while at the same time allowing FirstNet to implement a standards approach for technical and financially accountable frameworks that the States can use and that are inclusive of a fair and accountable support mechanism for FirstNet nationally. As I’ve stating from the very beginning, the only viable solution is a Bottom-Up Public Private Partnership model based on the State, Public Safety prioritization, and local broadband needs.

But what do I know, I’m….

Just some guy and a blog….

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