Security systems bid over?

Although the government yesterday announced that it had awarded a provisional contract on safety systems for the Athens 2004 Olympics to a consortium led by US company Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the issue is not yet settled. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said yesterday that the deal hinges on whether SAIC will lower its bid from 320 million euros to 270 million. This is unlikely to happen, unless sections of the project are stripped away, to the detriment of the security system’s overall efficiency. This is the likeliest outcome, since the government, under tremendous pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to finalize the contract, is unlikely to prolong negotiations. Although government officials were saying yesterday that, in case SAIC refused to revise its offer, they would resume talks with the other consortium, led by US-French alliance Thales Raytheon Systems, such an outcome is highly unlikely. Greece has budgeted a total of more than 650 million euros toward security for the 2004 Games, the highest amount ever spent, as there is increased concern over terrorist attacks. The government had optimistically, as it turned out, concluded that installing a communications system and training people to operate it would cost no more than 210 million euros. The initial bids were for more than 400 million euros (by the TRS) and 270 million (by SAIC) but were not equivalent: SAIC had not included a crucial component, including training, in its bid. Major companies in the SAIC consortium include the German company Siemens AG; US General Dynamics Corp; New Jersey-based Honeywell International Inc., and Greek companies Altec, Diekat and Pouliadis. Siemens will be mostly responsible for developing the secure TETRA wireless communications system. The project also includes software for the simulation of emergencies, such as terrorist attacks and fires, as well as cameras, two helicopters and a blimp equipped with surveillance systems, security systems for eight ports and a marina, sonar and electronic scans and other equipment. Intense diplomatic pressure was exercised upon the Greek government in recent months to favor one or the other consortium. The government’s attempt to get the two consortiums to work together failed.