FirstNet board slated to consider resolution that could set stage for potential nationwide award
FirstNet board members are expected to consider a resolution that could prepare the organization to facilitate a possible award of the contract to build and maintain the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) under the correct circumstances, according to the agenda for tomorrow’s regular board meeting.
On the agenda released today, the final action item calls for FirstNet board members to consider Resolution 84, which would provide for “delegation of approval to complete NPSBN acquisition.” If approved, the resolution would authorize a designated delegate to take the actions needed to complete the FirstNet procurement process and award the 25-year contract.
It is common for governmental entities to delegate authority—for instance, a city council empowering a city manager to sign a contract—so that certain items can be executed quickly, without having to wait on the full board to reconvene.
Whether such actions could be taken in the near term for FirstNet will depend largely on the outcome of the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims challenging the findings of the FirstNet procurement process. Oral arguments were conducted on March 3. A decision from Judge Elaine Kaplan is expected this week, according to a statement from Rivada Mercury, the plaintiff in the case.
If the verdict supports the FirstNet procurement, many industry sources believe that FirstNet could award the contract to the AT&T bidding team—the only participant selected by the evaluation team to be in the “competitive range” of the FirstNet procurement, according to documents submitted by Rivada Mercury and AT&T—within a week or two.
If Kaplan rules against the FirstNet procurement, the Rivada Mercury bid would be studied in the “competitive range” stage. After that evaluation is completed and a choice made, another legal protest could be conducted—a scenario that could extend months, according to legal experts.
Given these circumstances, approval of a delegation resolution is expected to be more likely if FirstNet receives a favorable court ruling before tomorrow’s board meeting. If there is an unfavorable ruling or no ruling issued when the board convenes, the FirstNet board may be more hesitant to approve the resolution.
U.S. state and public-safety officials are keenly interested in the outcome of the case and the procurement award. The FirstNet procurement award is the action that would establish the timetable for myriad processes, including the nationwide FirstNet deployment and states’ decisions whether to pursue the “opt-out” alternative.
In the case, Rivada Mercury is protesting its elimination from the “competitive range” stage of the nationwide FirstNet procurement. FirstNet is being represented in the lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice. AT&T is an intervenor in the case, in support of the U.S. government.
Rivada Mercury argued in its original complaint that the circumstances in the case deserve extra scrutiny from the court, because AT&T is the only bidder remaining in the “competitive range” of the FirstNet procurement. Rivada Mercury also argued its belief that it could address the evaluation team’s concerns in an oral discussion of its proposal—something that only would happen within the “competitive range” stage of the procurement.