State receives another setback over license tag redesign
The state received another setback Wednesday in its efforts to redesign its license tags. For the past year, state highway safety officials have been researching changing to a new, seven-digit tag, in part because remote cameras at toll booths cannot always accurately "read" the digits on Florida plates.
An administrative law judge ruled that numerous provisions of the invitation to negotiate (ITN) were not consistent with state competitive bidding laws, and urged the state to start over again. Judge Lynne Quimby-Pennock's decision was a victory for Florida tax collectors and PRIDE, the St. Petersburg-based not-for-profit that for 30 years has overseen the manufacture of Florida license tags by prison inmates.
In her 65-page order, the judge repeatedly concluded that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' proposal was confusing, "ill-defined," erroneous and anti-competitive. "The failure by the Department to succinctly define various terms is contrary to competitive bidding," the judge wrote. "Terms such as 'bulk shipments,' 'bulk packages,' 'bulk distribution,' 'installation,' and 'complete working system' are a few of the various ill-defined or undefined terms. She said three agency officials were asked to define a complete working system, and each bureaucrat gave a different explanation.
The judge also concluded that a Statement of Qualifications and Services Offered (SQSO) unfairly required bidders to produce a sample license plate for the state to consider in evaluating competing proposals. "(This) is contrary to competition, as it limits the entities that could possibly propose options to only those entities that have the current ability to produce the requisite sheeting," the judge wrote in her order.
State highway safety chief Julie Jones said Wednesday she was aware of the decision but had not yet had time to meet with agency attorneys to discuss it or to consider an official response.