Another Sad Story Chapter — From Boston, Who Once Had This problem Solved

Back in 2007/2008 the city of Boston found they had a tremendous problem with “rouge snowplows”.  Both city-owned vehicles and vehicles hired for plowing from independent contractors were:

  1. Not where they were scheduled to be
  2. Not where drivers said they were when queried on the radio.
  3. Not plowing city roads and property when they were charging the city for the time.
  4. Or, (a biggie), “working” on the lcock for the city while they were off plowing private drives and parking lots for “under the table” cash.

Wirh a great deal of reluctance  the leadership of the city decided to actually hold their employees accountable by requiring all snow plowing vehicles to be equipped with and tracked by GPS fleet tracking software.

A valiant step in the right direction … one which not only saved the city money, but resulted in much better snow plowing service to the citizens (who, of course, are ACTUALLY the bosses of the city).

Sadly it seems though that some, either ignorant, corrupt or else just plain uncaring leadership who arbitrarily decided that some city plows didn’t need to be tracked.

No GPS in stolen plow

GPS Tracking saves money for ALL fleetsGPS tracking devices — Boston’s first line of defense 
against double-dipping snow-plow drivers — were never installed in trucks owned by the city parks department despite a 2008 tech upgrade that put the abuse-busting trackers in hundreds of public works vehicles, officials admitted yesterday.

The lack of trackers in parks department trucks came to light after the Herald asked why there was no GPS device in a plow stolen Thursday night from Franklin Park in Dorchester and found early yesterday in Mattapan.

“The parks department has felt there was no pressing need for that,” office spokeswoman Jacqueline Goddard said. “However, we’re looking at it now.” (My emphasis)

Watchdogs say it doesn’t make sense to put trackers in some city-owned trucks and leave others to roam free.

“Any time you have an opportunity to remove any tempt­ation, it’s a great thing for the taxpayers to have that utilized,” said Matt Cahill, 
executive director of the Boston Finance Commission. “We’ve got the software, we’ve made the capital investment into the hardware.”

Cahill said without GPS, the only thing keeping parks-department plow drivers from slipping away to a side gig is “a very involved manager.” …

And that line alone may be the saddest example of management “Missing the Point” of using GPS tracking.

Managers should indeed be involved.  But they should be involved with actual management, not running around chasing after unruly drivers like a hapless substitute teacher who has lost control of an unruly reform school class.

One guy apparently is devoted to “counting trucks” … only when one seems to be missing, of course.  I guess in the summer he counts lawn mowers and string trimmers.

That isn’t “management” folks.  It is, instead, a senseless waste of both the manager’s talent and the taxpayer’s dollar.

Can we do a bit better in 2013, Folks?  Maybe?  Please?

How Many Times Have I heard This Sad Story?

For many years I work in procurement for the US government,.  Specifically I was involved for along 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 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.  hand down the single most significant factor in getting a workable, useful system lies way back in 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.


Supreme Court 1The 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 GPOS Fleet Tracking Systems

If You Care About GPS and the Future!

We wanted to let you know that Representatives of three members of the Coalition to Save Our GPS will testify tomorrow morning at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation and the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Details are below. If you would like to watch it live, it will be streamed at the Committee’s website,


2167 Rayburn House Office Building

June 23, 2011

9:00 am EST

Witness list for the hearing, with Coalition members in bold:

· Roy Kienitz, under secretary-policy at the Department of Transportation;

· Teri Takai, acting assistant secretary-networks and information integration and chief information officer for the Defense Department;

· Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., assistant commandant-command, control, communications, computers and information technology and chief information officer for the U.S. Coast Guard;

· Margaret Jenny, president of RTCA, Inc.;

· Phil Straub, vice president-aviation engineering for Garmin International, Inc.;

· Craig Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association;

· Thomas Hendricks, senior vice president-safety, security and operations for the Air Transport Association; and

· Jeff Carlisle, executive vice president-regulatory affairs and public policy for LightSquared

Anne Tyrrell

The Coalition to Save Our GPS