by Malia Zimmerman

Pacific Business News
November 30, 1999

from TheCatBirdSeat Website


Two state entities -- the Department of Transportation and the Procurement Office -- will soon decide which Hawaii company will be awarded three coveted security-service contracts valued at more than $36 million.

The contracts are for security guard services at Honolulu International Airport; the neighbor island airports; and Aloha Stadium.

The transportation department is expected to begin the bidding process Aug. 5 for the Honolulu and neighbor island airport contracts.

The winning bid may be determined within 10 days after the initial request for proposals is issued.

Collectively valued at $12 million a year over a three-year period, the contracts are coveted because combined they could make the winning security firm the largest in the state. The Wackenhut Corp., a mainland-based security company, has held the contract since 1994.

The bids originally were solicited last August, but the transportation department recalled and re-issued the specifications after complaints by competitors of favoritism toward Wackenhut.

Complaints filed with the transportation department ranged from too short a turnaround time (three weeks from when the specifications were issued to when the bid was due); too short a turnaround time to implement the bid if selected; and a lack of clarity in equipment needed to meet the state's requirements.

But Marilyn Kali, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said in an interview last year there was no favoritism in the bidding process. She says the state broke the $36 million airport contract into two bids to give more companies and smaller firms a chance to win one of the bids. And she says the attorney general's office would look into clarifying the specifications.

Kali did not return calls to PBN to answer questions regarding the new bid, and no one else from the transportation department involved in the project would comment without her permission.

Security companies bidding on the project say the winning security firm will still have to work to meet the challenges of complex requirements within the allotted time.

These include hiring 600 to 700 trained employees with high school diplomas, and running FBI background clearances and 10-year residence and employment checks, and providing 40 hours of sidearm and general training.

In addition, the winning bidder must purchase thousands of dollars' worth of equipment from mainland distributors, including guns, 4-by-4 vehicles, golf carts and more than $50,000 in radios and other equipment. All the equipment must be uniform.

Ray Romero, Hawaii general manager of Burns International Security Services Corp., says his company bid on the state airport contracts. Burns, established in Hawaii 30 years ago, held the airport contract in the 1970s.

Buzzy Chang, president of Wackenhut, could not be reached for comment.

Also up for grabs is the contract for security guard service at the Aloha Stadium, estimated to be worth around $260,000 annually for 18 guards. The contract, now held by Hawaii Protective Services, likely will be awarded to one of two companies: Wackenhut, which bid $255,000 a year; and Centurion Guard Service, which bid $261,000.

If both are disqualified, the contract will go back to Hawaii Protective Services, a local company owned by Larry Mehau.

Hawaii Protective Services was eliminated from the running because its bid was higher than that of its two competitors....