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You'll Only Get As Good a GPS System As You Ask For

You’ll Only Get As Good a GPS System As You Ask For

(Last updated 12 August, 2017)

For many years I worked in procurement for the US government,.  Specifically I was involved for a long time writing specifications, Requests For Proposals  (RFP’s) and evaluating contracts for GPS Fleet Tracking equipment.

I saw a lot of “good deals” for the government, a lot of not so “good deals” and I saw a few pieces of absolute crap.

You know what made the difference between the good and the bad?

The way the RFP’s were written.  Hands down the single most significant factor in getting a workable, useful system lies way back at the selection process where you define the need.

“Tacking On” tasks to existing contracts which never were about current needs?  It is not only illegal in many instances, but it is the most sure-fire path to getting one of those undesirable “crap” systems.

Do it right, people.  The system you get can not be any better than the system you ask for.

And it’s also the taxpayers money, if you hadn’t thought about that.

City changes course after skipping GPS bids

First try was linked to existing contract.

By ANDREW DENNEY

You'll Only Get As Good a GPS System As You Ask ForThe city is continuing to accept bids from companies to develop a GPS bus-tracking system — something its law department says should have been done in the first place before asking one software company to take on the project without requesting other proposals.

“They are trying to clean this up and do this right,” said Rose Wibbenmeyer, an assistant city counselor.



In May, the city promised that GPS tracking for Columbia Transit would debut with the launch of the student-centric FastCAT bus route in August, serving downtown and campus. The plan was to have the GPS service ready first for FastCAT and later for all Columbia Transit buses, allowing riders to track buses’ whereabouts from a smartphone or computer.

To develop the service, city officials — without seeking proposals from other vendors — looked to RouteMatch Software, an Atlanta-based company that since 2006 maintained a scheduling program for Columbia Transit’s paratransit vehicles. But RouteMatch was unable to develop a working GPS program for FastCAT, and the city dropped the vendor. The city since has developed its own GPS program until it hires a new vendor.

Wibbenmeyer said officials should have instead issued a request for formal proposals, which is required for city purchases totaling more than $15,000. The city expects the overall GPS project to cost as much as $400,000, with federal transportation funds covering 80 percent of that.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said the city had intended to grant the work to RouteMatch as a change order to the city’s existing contract. He said that because of the short timeline to have GPS ready, and because RouteMatch’s work for paratransit had been successful, the city wanted to see whether that program could be expanded to provide the GPS service.

“At the time, it certainly made sense to do what we did,” St. Romaine said. “But in retrospect, it probably wasn’t a good decision.”

He said the city did not generate any documents for the proposed change order before the deal fell through…. rest of the article on How Not To Contract GPS Fleet Tracking Systems

So What Can We Learn Here?

Simple.  Take the time to write specification that reflect what your city (or business) really needs, and then competitively bid them,

Trying to purchase and implement a useful GPS tracking system by “conveniently” (but often illegally) just expanding the scope and intent of an existing vendor’s contract seldom turns out well.

For the time and effort wasted here the city could hav ehad acomlete, working system already in place … and avaoded potential lawsuits as well.

You’ll Only Get As Good a GPS System As You Ask For