Thursday, August 16, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

Traffic ticketing
by camera delayed

A vendor alleges the video
camera design contract was
unfairly given to another firm

By Rick Daysog

A CONTROVERSIAL PLAN to use video cameras to issue traffic tickets has hit a snag after a San Francisco company filed a formal protest alleging that state officials had improper contacts with the vendor selected for the design contract.

In a July 3 letter obtained by the Star-Bulletin, complainant Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. said officials at the state Department of Transportation set aside, without providing explanation, a Dec. 11 notice that named Redflex as the most qualified bidder.

The Transportation Department later awarded the contract to Lockheed Martin IMS, whose camera system relies on obsolete technology, Redflex attorney Lawrence Reifurth wrote. Lockheed had previously complained about Redflex's designation as front-runner for the contract.

"The subsequent unexplained award of the contract to Lockheed all suggests the existence of an alternative agenda," Reifurth said. "The process has not been fair to Redflex in that it has been denied the same access to the agency and the decision-makers that others have had throughout the process."

Reifurth declined to specify the alleged improper communications between transportation officials and Lockheed officials. Michael Bird, Lockheed's attorney, declined comment.

Brian Minaai, director of the state Transportation Department, could not be reached for comment. But in an Aug. 3 letter to Reifurth, Minaai said the department will not take any action on the Lockheed contract until Redflex's protest is resolved.

Under state law, Redflex can request an administrative hearing if the Transportation Department rejects its protest. So far, the Transportation Department has taken no position on Redflex's protest, said Wayne Matsuura, deputy attorney general.

The contract calls for the vendor to install portable cameras at 14 state highways and roads to automatically take photos of drivers exceeding the speed limit. The contractor also must put in cameras at 10 intersections throughout Oahu.

The cost of the project will be paid for by the vendor, which in turn would receive a portion of the traffic fines it collects. A Lockheed subcontractor, Poltech International Ltd. of Australia, recently disclosed that it could generate more than $15 million in income from the Department of Transportation contract.

This is not the first time that the plan has been delayed.

State transportation officials originally planned to have the video camera system installed by May but pushed back its implementation to the fall.

That came after Lockheed filed a protest Dec. 18 alleging that the Department of Transportation "unduly" favored Redflex when the department director at that time, Kazu Hayashida, selected the San Francisco-based company the top bidder.

On March 16, Hayashida's successor, Minaai, rescinded Hayashida's selection of Redflex as the top bidder, saying Hayashida's decision did not "constitute an award" and was "prematurely sent."

On June 29, Minaai awarded the contract to the Lockheed group after asking both companies to provide final offers.

Reifurth said that Minaai did not provide details as to why he selected Lockheed instead of Redflex.

"Redflex finds itself ... in the almost unbelievable position of having to challenge a complete and unexplained reversal," Reifurth said. "The DOT's decision was based on an arbitrary and capricious process that provided for no more than two days' review of competing complex technological, operational and cost data."

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