First-responders agencies can subscribe to FirstNet services using a cooperative contract with NPPGov that is designed to streamline the procurement process and provide access to statewide pricing, according to NPPGov and AT&T, FirstNet’s contractor to build and operate the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

“Traditionally, a governmental entity would need to conduct their own solicitation process—their own RFP—to be able to make a procurement like this,” NPPGov President Crosby Grindle said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Rather than having to go through their own solicitation process, our publicly awarded contract allows them to just piggyback off of that and basically use that contract and process in place of their own, so it saves them time.

“There are other co-op contracts available. I think the thing that makes this one notable is that we have streamlined the process of accessing it—so it is even easier—and we have created state-level addendums that allow them to get some of the best pricing available within their state.”

According to a press release issued by AT&T last week, there are two “big changes” the NPPGov contract for FirstNet:

  • “NPPGov members interested in signing up for FirstNet can now skip the contracting process altogether. The Public Procurement Authority (the lead public agency awarding the contract) signed state agreements, which lets customers access custom FirstNet pricing in their applicable state without signing a contract. This allows FirstNet customers to jump right into onboarding. 
  • “All FirstNet-eligible subscribers, who are existing NPPGov members or enroll for a membership, can now use NPPGov to sign up for service. NPPGov was originally only available to government entities. But with this change, the NPPGov contract for FirstNet is open to volunteer firefighters, private ambulance companies, hospitals, nonprofit organizations and more.”

NPPGov—a division of National Purchasing Partners (NPP), a large private-sector procurement cooperative—has long been a leader in creating procurements for public-safety agencies, according to Grindle. NPPGov has more than 35,000 government-entity members and operates in all 50 states, he said.

“Our business is to facilitate the creation and use of publicly solicited contracts that governments can piggyback off of, rather than going through their own solicitation process,” Grindle said. “That saves them time in their procurement process and can save them money, because often they get better pricing than they would, if they went through the [procurement] process themselves.

“In general, it satisfies everyone’s bidding requirements. Certainly, we always recommend everyone to review the procurement policy in their locality or their state, but our contracts are designed to work in all 50 states and almost all localities.”

Grindle said NPPGov has seen “exponential momentum” in the governmental entities’ interest in FirstNet.

“We have noticed a definite increase over the last couple of months in our members being interested in FirstNet,” he said. “We have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of time that we spend answering member inquiries from first-responder agencies in accessing FirstNet and this FirstNet contract.”

Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T-FirstNet, said he hopes that the NPPGov contract will help agencies adopt FirstNet services.

“NPPGov’s updated procurement process for FirstNet takes contracting to the next level,” Sambar said in a prepared statement. “First responders face plenty of challenges. Getting access to FirstNet shouldn’t be one of them. By removing the need to execute an additional contract, the NPPGov process makes it even quicker and easier for first responders to get up and running on their network.”