As the nation went on a post-9/11 spending binge on emergency communications, an investigation by McClatchy Newspapers found that, in one region after another, city, county and state officials have favored Motorola, helping the firm secure an estimated 80 percent of the nation’s emergency telecommunications business. From the nation's capital to the Pacific Coast, government officials have handed the company noncompetitive contracts, used modifications of years-old contracts to acquire new systems or crafted bid specifications to Motorola's advantage.
Officials, perhaps without recognizing their collective role, have helped stunt the very competition that's needed to hold down prices and assure the most efficient use of government dollars. The company's contract wins have been clouded by irregularities or allegations of government favoritism in Chicago, Dallas, the San Francisco Bay Area and on statewide systems in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Washington, to name a few. Losing bidders often have been left chafing with the belief that they weren't playing on a level field.