- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The District has awarded a no-bid deal to the company in charge of the city’s red-light and speed traffic cameras.

The agreement pays ACS State and Local Solutions Inc. $7.2 million to provide equipment and maintenance to the District’s 49 red-light cameras, 12 mobile radar units and 10 fixed-location speed cameras. The contract runs from Jan. 6 through September.

The Metropolitan Police Department recommended awarding the contract without competitive bidding because “competition is not feasible or practical at this time,” said documents signed by Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and Herbert R. Tillery, the city’s interim chief procurement officer.

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The officials also cited legal concerns that the “operating system is currently a proprietary system of ACS,” the contract documents said.

The police department has credited automated cameras with reducing red-light violations and aggressive driving. Officials said the program has cut aggressive driving from one in three drivers to one in 30 drivers in areas monitored by cameras.

Critics question the city’s motives for the program. The region’s largest motor club, AAA Mid-Atlantic, has backed traffic cameras in other jurisdictions but notes that the D.C. program has generated tens of millions of dollars in fines.

The new contract pays ACS a flat fee of about $850,000 per month. Previously, the company received a flat monthly fee of about $650,000. Under the previous no-bid deal approved last year, ACS also stood to earn more money if the District issued more than 53,750 citations in any given month.

The status of the city’s camera program remained in serious question last week after D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, filed a resolution disapproving of an earlier version of the ACS contract.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams last month submitted to the council a one-year deal for $10.8 million. Mrs. Patterson withdrew her objection after city officials agreed to an eight-month deal and pledged to restructure the contract later this year.

In a letter to Mrs. Patterson last week, Edward Reiskin, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice, stated that the District planned to seek competitive bids for the contract by next month.

“The new solicitation will provide for enhanced competition by … enabling multiple firms to submit proposals for individual or multiple component parts,” Mr. Reiskin stated in his letter.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson yesterday said Mrs. Patterson wasn’t alone in her concerns over the ACS deal.

“The feeling was that a contract this size ought not to be let on a sole-source basis,” Mr Mendelson said yesterday.

The contract comes at a time when the District has come under increasing criticism for its practice of awarding no-bid contracts. The Washington Times reported in September 2004 that the District had awarded more than $350 million through sole-source, or no-bid, deals.

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