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Macon-Bibb software choice gets messier [The Macon Telegraph]
[October 04, 2013]

Macon-Bibb software choice gets messier [The Macon Telegraph]

(Macon Telegraph (GA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 04--One bidder to provide software for the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government argues that the selection process is biased, even as the group tasked with recommending software has backed away from making a decision.

Lance Clark, president and CEO of Spillman Technologies, sent a letter Sept. 6 to various officials alleging "impropriety in the acquisition process" for public safety software, which is expected to cost several million dollars.

Specifically, Clark said the city-county committee asked to compare software packages appeared to have been steered toward choosing New World Systems by consultant Pat Savage, who worked for New World as recently as seven years ago.

Clark cited a quote from Macon's interim Chief Administrative Officer Dale Walker as evidence that New World, which won the contract to provide general administration software, was favored in advance for the public safety package, too. Walker told The Telegraph in October 2012 that the new government would need a "unified" system.

Both Savage and Walker, however, deny any bias existed.

"I attribute it to a vendor that's disappointed they didn't win a contract and is taking whatever steps they can to cast aspersions on that," said Savage, who was hired by the task force working on consolidation to help evaluate software. In similar evaluations for other governments, Savage has overseen choices that went to Spillman, but this is the first time one he's overseen has gone to New World, he said.

This week the task force's Technology Committee asked public safety officials to figure out whether it would be practical to keep an upgraded version of the current system in place, instead of buying new software from New World or anyone else.

Clark argued that Walker has used New World products in previous jobs and already is inclined in that direction -- a characterization Walker disputes.

"Yes, I have used New World in past jobs, but New World is a national company and one of the leading software providers to governments," Walker said via email.

Walker said he distanced himself from the selection process, leaving Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Director Don Druitt in charge, as a way to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Savage was there to provide technical advice, not make decisions; and in any case the Technology Committee hasn't yet made a formal choice, Walker said.

"Final decisions have not been made by anyone, even though they make some allegations," he said.

Savage and Walker communicated with Judd Drake, interim city attorney, who sent a response Oct. 1 to Travis Knudsen, South Region manager for Spillman.

Drake said in his letter that he looked over the review process, and found Spillman and New World scored equally well. Price and compatibility with existing equipment appeared to be the deciding factors for the review committee. He emphasized that no final decision has been made about buying public safety software, and that Walker deliberately remained uninvolved in the decision-making.

"Mr. Walker's referenced quote from October 26, 2012, is accurate and was expressed from an optimistic point of view related to a desire to have compatible public administration and public safety software systems," Drake wrote. "Based on the foregoing, I am unable to substantiate your concerns regarding alleged legal violations in restraint of free and open competition related to the public safety software selection process." Knudsen said Friday that Spillman had no further comment at this time.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

___ (c)2013 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.) Visit The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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