No Accountability for State Speed Camera Contractor at SHA
Another negative legislative audit of the Maryland State Highway Administration found that the agency failed to ensure proper benchmarks were set for the state’s speed camera program for highway work zones, the wining speed camera contractor’s bid did not comply with certain request for proposal requirements, and tests of the speed camera monitoring system’s accuracy were not as comprehensive as SHA intended.
At the time of the contract award and as of April 2012, the specific speed detection equipment (scanning LIDAR, a laser system) listed in the contractor’s proposal, and ultimately used, was not reported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as conforming to its guidelines, as required by the RFP. The contract required that all equipment conform with IACP’s speed detection equipment standards to provide assurance of its calibration and functionality. We were advised by a member of the IACP, who was also a SHA consultant, that the scanning laser technology used was new and that IACP had not yet developed performance standards by which the system could be judged.
The October 26, 2009 RFP required that the proposed equipment record a legible image of the violating vehicle’s rear license plate 95 percent of the time, regardless of the time of day, environmental conditions, or vehicle positioning. However, in May 2010, during the bid evaluation process, this measure was changed to 90 percent, and we were advised by SHA management personnel that this was the result of the contractor asserting that it was unable to meet the 95 percent legibility measure.
Prior to awarding the contract, SHA used a consulting firm to conduct a system accuracy test of the contractor’s proposed equipment in an active highway work zone. However, the consulting firm deviated from SHA’s testing instructions and therefore, the basis for the conclusion that the equipment met performance requirements is questionable. For example, SHA directed the consulting firm to have test vehicles perform 40 test runs in which the contractor’s speed measuring equipment would be compared to two independent radars, one which was inside and one which was outside the vehicle. However, the consulting firm only conducted 18 test runs and only reported the results of 8 of those runs. Moreover, five of those eight reported runs were made using vehicles lacking independent interior radar, so the results could only be measured against one independent radar, rather than two as planned. Nevertheless, the consulting firm stated that the observed results fell within acceptable standards, and SHA’s technical evaluation team gave an overall “good” ranking of the contractor for the applicable bid evaluation attribute. SHA could not provide a reasonable explanation or documentation regarding why the tests were considered sufficient.