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Indy dispatch system upgrade at risk after deadlines missed

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city’s Public Safety Board agreed in a unanimous vote late Friday to extend the deadline for a new citywide dispatch system until the end of the year, despite promises from an outside vendor that the system would be finished six months ago.

The 3-0 vote came in an emergency meeting at 4:30 p.m. Friday without two of the board members present. It approves a conditional amendment to the current contract with InterAct Public Safety Systems, an outside vendor hired by the city in 2012 to create a new records management system (RMS) used to create police, fire and EMS reports and maintain records of calls for service.

The agreement also included the creation of a new computer aided dispatch (CAD) system used to dispatch police, fire and EMS crews in the most efficient manner possible, providing faster response times in emergencies.

The original contract, negotiated by the administration of former Public Safety Director Frank Straub and signed in September 2012, agreed to pay InterAct $12.7 million for the work, which was to be completed within “12-24 months.” Thirty months later, it remains unfinished.LAUNCH DATE MISSED

The RMS system first went online in June 2014. Despite working out what officials have called “bugs” in the system, Public Safety Deputy Director Valerie Washington told the board the RMS is fully functional.

But last April, InterAct asked the city for an extension for the CAD portion of the agreement, saying it would not be fully functional by its intended launch date in September 2014.

By that point, the city had paid the company $8.7 million of the contract, Washington said.

DPS declined the extension in May, pushing for completion. No additional payments have been made to InterAct since and little work has been done on the system, she added.

In January 2015, amid threats of legal action, InterAct notified the city that it’s finances were “dire,” and it was in danger of slipping toward bankruptcy. But a potential buyer had been identified. The buyer told DPS officials it is “committed to finishing Indianapolis’ CAD project,” Washington said.

But, on February 9, DPS got a letter from InterAct, Washington told the board, listing three demands before it would agree to finish the work:

  • The city agrees to file no litigation alleging breach of contract by InterAct
  • A new delivery date of December 15, 2015 is established
  • DPS agrees to cover the cost of maintaining the cost of the current, outdated CAD system known as Tiburon until the new InterAct system is fully functional

On Friday, Washington estimated the cost to maintain the current Tiburon based CAD system through the end of the year at $750,000.“BEST OF A BAD SITUATION”

DPS initially rejected the demands, but on Friday presented an amendment to the contract to the Public Safety Board that agreed to the terms, provided that the so-far unidentified buyer agreed to complete the purchase of InterAct. If that doesn’t occur, the amendment approved by the Board Friday is void, and the city would be free to pursue litigation.

The potential purchaser would walk away from the deal without such terms in place, Washington said, which would leave the city back at “square one,” and forced to seek new bids to create a new CAD system from scratch.

The buyout of InterAct is expected to be completed within the next week, which is why an emergency meeting was called Friday to discuss the terms, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said.

Once the expected sale is done, Indianapolis agrees to provide a $500,000 payment to InterAct within 14 days, according to the amended terms.

“The potential buyer is solvent. They agreed to use the same staff as before for continuity. And this presents us with a specific completion date. This keeps us on the path toward a fully functional CAD system,” Washington told the board.

Riggs, when asked why the city is agreeing not to pursue legal action on a breached contract, called the amendment decision the best of a bad situation.

“That’s a great question (on why the city isn’t suing the company for damages),” Riggs said. “It’s the first question I asked. But we don’t believe they’re fiscally stable at this time. Obviously we’re disappointed but taxpayers have gotten value out of the RMS. We want to see the CAD through to (completion). We believe this route is better for us as a community and best protects our taxpayers.”