Lottery contract goes to $64 million low bidder

April 18, 1991|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS — An article in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly attributed to the governor a statement by Marcel Helou, vice president of the Control Data Corp. Mr. Helou said of the Maryland State Lottery computer system proposed by GTech Corp., "We're looking here at an unproven, untested, undemonstrated system."

ANNAPOLIS -- Despite a last-minute plea from the losing bidder, the Board of Public Works awarded a $64 million lottery computer contract yesterday to GTech Corp. of Providence, R.I.

The five-year contract covers all the hardware, software, services and maintenance for the Maryland State Lottery Agency's machines. GTech's bid was about $17 million less than that of the lottery's current computer company, Control Data Corp. of Minneapolis.

That wide gap brought Marcel Helou, a Control Data vice president, to the board to ask a week's delay while his firm reviewed the details of the competition's bid. The difference "has really puzzled us," Mr. Helou said, and "causes us to believe apples are not being compared with apples."

The two companies, competitors for lottery work around the country, fought hard for the contract here.

In other states, Mr. Helou said, the bids are usually much closer. "We just have a problem in trying to determine how all of a sudden this tremendous gap suddenly comes up. We know what it takes to run the business. "I certainly think it's in the best interests of the state to look at the offering."

But Charles L. Benton, secretary of budget and fiscal planning, said the state had reviewed GTech's bid exhaustively and found no problems. He added that Control Data had not filed a protest within 14 days of the recommended award last February.

Under state law, details of bids cannot be revealed to competitors until after a contract has been awarded, said state Treasurer Lucille Maurer. But officials will be allowed to discuss GTech's terms with Control Data now, Mrs. Maurer said.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer sympathized with the high bidder but voted for GTech.

"You raise an interesting point," he told Mr. Helou. "I think our procurement people ought to look at it. We're looking here at an unproven, untested, undemonstrated system."

The new computers should be in operation by Aug. 15, Mr. Benton said.

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