The state government's lengthy search for a vendor to supply a new generation of telephone switching equipment is expected to end today when the Board of Public Works votes on a recommendation to award an $11.7 million contract to a subsidiary of GTE Corp.
The apparent victory by GTE represents a reversal for Bell Atlantic Meridian Systems, which won the five-year contract in bidding last year only to be disqualified by the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals. After an appeal by Fujitsu Business Communications Systems, the appeals board ruled in September that the original bidding process was marred by numerous flaws and ordered the state to choose a winner from among the remaining bidders.
After the ruling, the state Department of General Services declined to appeal but decided to go back to Square 1 in the bidding to replace 28 private branch exchange (PBX) systems. That provoked another appeal to the board from Fujitsu, but this time the General Services Department prevailed.
The results of the second bidding process indicate that the state made the best of its appeals board's ruling against it. Martin W. Walsh Jr., secretary of general services, said his department obtained a price $6.9 million lower than last year's lowest bid for essentially the same PBX products.
In the second round of bidding, GTE Customer Networks of Chantilly, Va., edged out both Bell Atlantic Meridian and Fujitsu Business Communications Systems.
GTE's winning $11.7 million bid came in more than $900,000 lower than Bell Atlantic Meridian's second-place bid of $12.6 million and ROLM Corp's $14 million. Fujitsu, at $15.9 million, came in fourth among the seven bidders.
The state's selection committee also ranked GTE's proposal first in its technical evaluation of the bids, again edging out Bell Atlantic Meridian. Despite its name, Burlington, N.J.-based Bell Atlantic Meridian is controlled by Canada's Northern Telecom Ltd., while Bell Atlantic Corp. owns a minority share.
The contract consolidates Maryland's purchases of PBX systems, which previously had been supplied by several vendors. In a statement to be released today, Gov. William Donald Schaefer estimated that the consolidation will save the state and local governments $10 million over the next five years.
A lawyer for Fujitsu said he knew of no plans to appeal the most recent contract award.