January 15, 2009 By Matt Williams
Chalk up another defeat for interoperable communications networks. The New York state Office for Technology (OFT) announced Thursday it has terminated its contract with M/A-COM, the vendor building the statewide wireless public safety network.
The OFT gave M/A-COM notice for payment of a $50 million standby letter of credit, as agreed upon in the contract. Since the contract was awarded in April 2004, the state said it has spent $54 million in operating expenses for the project.
The OFT said M/A-COM failed to cure 15 of 19 deficiencies that were outlined in an Aug. 29, 2008, default letter. Problems outlined in the default notice included high failure rates for mobile radios and other portable devices; multiple site outages that rendered the network unavailable for 43 hours during the July test period; and glitches with the network's uninterrupted roaming feature that in some cases prevented the use of radios for emergency communications. According to the notice, the wireless network failed two earlier tests -- one in fall 2007 and another in spring 2008 -- before another unsuccessful assessment in July 2008.
New York state CIO Melodie Mayberry-Stewart told Government Technology during an interview on Sept. 5, 2008, that she was optimistic the problems could be fixed. Her optimism was apparently dashed on Thursday.
"We are extremely disappointed M/A-COM has failed to demonstrate the reliability of their OpenSky technology, especially its network and subscriber radios, which are the core of the system," said Mayberry-Stewart in a news release. "Per the terms of the contract, we have given M/A-COM every opportunity to remediate existing deficiencies. However, the state's testing concluded M/A-COM is unable to deliver a system that meets the needs of New York state's first responders as stated in the contract."
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