The state Department of Public Safety won't take a new $20 million contract for photo enforcement away from a Scottsdale firm even though it had been operating some of its radar guns illegally.
Lu Himmelstein, the agency's chief procurement officer, acknowledged that the radar units Redflex Traffic Systems had put into two vehicles being leased by DPS had not been certified for use in this country by the Federal Communications Commission. American Traffic Solutions, which did not get the bid to set up an additional 100 fixed and mobile radar systems, said that meant Redflex was not a "responsible bidder," one of the requirements to get the contract.
But Himmelstein said that fact did not disqualify it from bidding - and, in this case, getting the contract. She said that as far as DPS is concerned, Redflex met the legal requirements.
"A determination of responsibility does not indicate that an offeror is perfect," Himmelstein wrote in the 14-page order rejecting the ATS appeal. And she accepted arguments by Redflex that the failure to have the equipment FCC certified was an "oversight."
DPS officials refused requests Friday by Capitol Media Services to provide a copy of the decision. A copy was obtained from other sources.
The decision does not end the battle over who will get to operate Arizona's first statewide system of photo enforcement.
ATS spokesman Josh Weiss said an appeal will be filed with the state Department of Administration. And if that fails, he said, the company will sue the state.
DPS currently has two photo radar vans which are operated by Redflex. The state pays a flat monthly fee for each vehicle, with proceeds from the citations issued going to the city or county where the offense occurred.
In an effort to raise more money for the state, Gov. Janet Napolitano directed DPS to expand the system. She also convinced legislators to alter the law so that all the revenue from the $165 citations - a figure put at $90 million for the first nine months - would end up in the state treasury.
Redflex got the bid for at least the first 100 units after offering to operate the units in exchange for keeping up to $28.75 for each ticket which is paid. While the contract does not spell out how much that will be, legislation approved earlier this year assumes the state will pay out $20 million to the successful bidder over a nine-month period.
Redflex president Karen Finley subsequently admitted that her company never got FCC certification for the radar guns in the two existing vans. That resulted in both vehicles being removed from the road for several weeks until Redflex got the required federal approval.
Finley also offered to refund the fines paid by the approximately 4,800 motorists cited since that system was deployed in November. But DPS officials refused, saying that it appeared the radar guns were properly calibrated even if they were not supposed to be operated.