The county will receive a new data storage unit and the existing one will be moved to the emergency operations center as a back-up.

The county's Board of Estimates approved the contract for $628,725.21 Thursday morning for EPlus Technology Inc., of Herndon, Va., to migrate the county's existing computer data to a new storage system and then move the existing storage to the emergency operations building to provide backup storage for disaster recovery purposes.

"To address the ongoing demands of a growing IT environment, Harford County is in need of an enterprise NetApp storage solution," reads a memo from information and communication technology director Ted Pibil to Debbie Henderson, director of procurement.

The project was publicly advertised and only EPlus responded.

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Harford County Executive David Craig questioned why 20 companies showed interest in the contract, but only one submitted a bid.

Procurement agent Stacy Rappold said she had sent e-mails to several companies for clarification and received a variety of reasons.

One company could only do the storage part of the contract and another couldn't provide the migration aspect, she said. There were also companies that didn't have experience with this type of project.

Rappold added that the company has previous experience with EPlus.

Board of Estimates member Jay Van Deusen asked if the proposal for companies to look at was written "in such a way nobody could provide it [the services]."

NetApp is an established software package, Henderson responded, and the county wasn't asking companies to create their own software.

The county already has a NetApp device, added Ron Pieper, with ICT, and they didn't want to throw it away as to keep everything consistent.

Board member Warren Hamilton also questioned the lack of bids.

"One firm said they could do one part, but not migration. Did we make it so one provider had to do both or could they team up with another team?" he asked.

That option wasn't precluded from the proposal, Henderson said, and one company could have teamed with another.

County Councilman Jim McMahan wondered if moving the existing storage to the EOC building is cost effective as it would need to be moved again when the new EOC building is complete.

"If we're going to keep it, we have to move it some place," Craig said. "I think it's very cost efficient. Otherwise, we get rid of it and have to buy a new one."

The contract was approved, with Van Deusen and Hamilton voting against.

Pagers for fire and EMS

Harford County's fire and EMS service will receive 2,000 pagers from US Alert LLC, of Boca Raton, Fla., for $713,000. The term is for one year with three optional renewals.

"Due to the FCC narrowband order which takes effect Jan. 1, 2013," a memo from Mitch Vocke with emergency operations to Henderson read, "the current pagers will not activate correctly."