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County contract with Frontier under review Contract may have been misrepresented by company

by Benjamin Kibbey Western News
| March 19, 2019 4:00 AM

The Lincoln County Commissioners are re-examining a contract with Frontier Communications after discovering costs in addition to those outlined in the original contract with the telecommunications company.

County Information Technology Director Ernie Anderson presented the news to the commissioners at their March 13 meeting. Anderson said he had first approached County Administrator Darren Coldwell that morning after finding out himself.

Coldwell recommended that the information be brought immediately to the attention of the commissioners, with the recommendation that the contract and new costs be forwarded to County Attorney Marcia Boris for review.

“He asked me to bring this to you right away,” Anderson told the commissioners.

At their Jan. 30 meeting, the commissioners voted to contract with Frontier for a system that records 911 calls. In addition, the system is meant to record calls to dispatch that come in on the regular phone line when people call the sheriff’s office and the radio traffic that the county dispatch monitors.

At the Jan. 30 meeting, Anderson said that the system would also allow recording of calls for officers, such as when taking a statement over the phone. This feature would even allow officers to pick up a recording from the start of a call, regardless if they had realized they needed to record the call until partway through the conversation.

The decision the commissioners made Jan. 30 was between Mitel Oaisys Voice Documentation and Contact Center Management Solutions through Frontier Business and NICE VoiceProducts, which would integrate with the existing NICE recording software that the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office uses in the county dispatch center.

Determining a software to use for recording calls has held up the moving of the department to a new phone system, which would put them on the same system as the rest of county government.

On March 13, Anderson said that he had expressly told Frontier that the software needed to be able to record 911 phone calls, regular phone calls and radio traffic, as well as having a record feature that could be used by officers during a phone call.

The original Frontier contract, which Anderson believed included all of those features, was for $28,829.26. That bid came in about a $1,000 less than the competing bid from NICE.

Anderson said after the March 13 meeting that the cost difference was the primary deciding reason to go with the Frontier bid.

However, once the contract was signed, Anderson said that he was told by Frontier that the county would need to pay for $15,476 in equipment and software licensing fees to be able to do the recording that the county wants.

Anderson told the commissioners on March 13 that he would have liked to be more prepared before presenting the new charges to them, but that he agreed with Coldwell that it was best to have the information before the commissioners immediately.

“Frontier is just the gift that keeps on giving,” said commissioner Mark Peck.

Commissioner Jerry Bennett said that he recalled discussions regarding whether the recording features the county wants would be included in the price that Frontier quoted.

“We have to have the county attorney look through that contract to make sure, but I feel that they didn’t represent that contract correctly,” Anderson said.

Bennett asked Anderson to check whether there is anything else that Frontier said the phone system would do, but it is not doing.

The commissioners voted unanimously to forward the contract to Boris’ office for review.