VeriFone contract suspended

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray speaks with reporters at an Aug. 22 press conference as taxi chair Ron Linton and VeriFone executives look on.

The Taxi Link airs on WUST 1120 AM. Listen to the Sept. 1 show here:

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“The District is hereby ordered to… suspend any further contract work,” Judge Monica Parchment of the Contract Appeals Board wrote in her decision suspending the city’s five-year, $35 million contract with VeriFone for installation of taxi smart meters in all 6,500 D.C. cabs within 90 days. “The District shall maintain this stay on [the VeriFone contract] until this protest is resolved by the Board on its merits,” said Friday’s decision.

Appearing on The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers’ radio show, The Taxi Link, which airs WUST 1120 AM and is co-hosted by TheFightBack‘s Pete Tucker and ANC commissioner Tony Norman, George Lowe, a lobbyist for Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), said, “VeriFone and the Taxicab Commission have to immediately cease and desist installing any additional equipment in any of the taxis until a final determination is made, which the judge anticipates will probably take some time between 45 to 60 days.”

CMT was among the eight companies to bid on the taxi smart meter contract which was awarded to VeriFone in July. Along with fellow competitor RideCharge, now TaxiMagic, CMT protested the contract saying the procurement process was flawed and unfairly benefitted VeriFone. The District disagreed. So much so, in fact, that it refused to await the Contract Appeals Board’s ruling on the VeriFone deal before beginning installation, which was suspended Friday.

In response to Judge Parchment’s ruling, Linton told The Washington Examiner, “I feel that it’s a poke in the eye of the people of D.C.” Cabbies, however, feel differently. “This is a big victory for the driver,” said Negede Abebe, chairman of The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers. Abebe called the VeriFone contract “flawed” and a “solely sourced procurement.” The District shouldn’t allow “a monopoly and one vendor [to] provide all these services, [or] the driver will not have any choice, any decision regarding his business,” he said.

“The judge vindicates everything that the taxicab drivers felt,” said Tony Norman, who’s a lawyer. “There’s something very wrong about this contract and this process and it doesn’t take an attorney or a genius to figure that out.” Norman also questioned the D.C. Council’s use of emergency legislation to approve the contract, an unusual move for such a large contract.

Related stories:
D.C.’s very funny VeriFone contract, Aug. 27, 2012


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