To resolve phone dispute, city officials dial up $205K consultant - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Mar. 25, 2015 12:22 pm

To resolve phone dispute, city officials dial up $205K consultant

The agreement solves a three-year fight over upgrades to the city's phone system. The Silver Spring-based Battles Group will be paid $205K to produce an RFP.

City phones need an upgrade.

(Photo by Flickr user Donovan Graen, used under a Creative Commons license)

Baltimore city has long been eligible for a phone upgrade. After three years of fighting over the plan, the officials in charge may at last be ready for newer technology.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Comptroller Joan Pratt announced an agreement Wednesday that’s meant to pave the way for the city to buy new phones with Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) technology.

Rawlings-Blake and Pratt went back and forth over the phone upgrade for years, with Pratt at one point suing the city amid accusations that the battle was wasting $400,000 a month.

Thought it wasn’t the reason for resignations, the disconnect figured into the drama that surrounded the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT) from 2012-2014. Former director Chris Tonjes proposed his own plan, and Tonjes’ predecessor Rico Singleton allegedly ran a bidding process that was riddled with conflicts of interest. The consensus is that the whole episode wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.

As a result of the agreement, the City will bring in the Silver Spring-based Battles Group to put out a new bid. According to the Board of Estimates, the consultants will be paid $204,750 to prepare a request for proposals (RFP), and “provide guidance” to the city in picking an outside vendor to install the phone system.

“This agreement enables an experienced telecommunications consultant to help provide critical assistance in selecting a vendor and implementing the phone system upgrade,” a joint statement released by Rawlings-Blake and Pratt said.

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The mayor’s office wants the upgrades to begin in spring 2016.

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