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Fargo no longer working with GPS supplier Epic

The city of Fargo is no longer contracting with Epic Solutions, the company over which former Public Works Director Al Weigel was fired for circumventing city purchasing policy.

Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral

The city of Fargo is no longer contracting with Epic Solutions, the company over which former Public Works Director Al Weigel was fired for circumventing city purchasing policy.

Epic supplied about $214,000 in GPS hardware and software for the Street Department's fleet, but the city will likely go with another company to get the system working, City Administrator Pat Zavoral said.

Most of the city's money to Epic was spent on researching and developing software that turned out to be unviable, Zavoral said.

"The solutions they were providing us didn't work, so we were just going to cut our losses," he said.

The system was designed to track the movement of the fleet and includes additional technology to assist drivers while plowing snow.


Staff testified during Weigel's termination hearings that there were numerous malfunctions with the tracking system.

Epic Solutions CEO and President Jeff Wilkens said the system works. It's likely city staff isn't sure how to operate it, he said.

Epic would normally provide technical support but has not been contacted by the city about the system, Wilkens said.

Wilkens sent letters to city commissioners in April, requesting a meeting to discuss the system, as well as statements made about Epic during Weigel's termination hearings.

"It's beyond that," Zavoral said of meeting with Epic.

City leaders and staff didn't meet with Epic, but City Attorney Erik Johnson sat down with Wilkens in June to discuss $13,000 in GPS loggers the city claims they never received.

The units are still sitting in a box at Epic, Wilkens said. "They just have to pick them up," he said.

The city still owes Epic about $30,000 for two trucks the company worked on, Wilkens said.


Johnson said Epic has yet to supply any documentation on that claim. But Wilkens said the work is included in four invoices Epic supplied to the city.

Epic invoices included in the forensic accounting report into Weigel's firing have all been paid by the city, the report shows.

The city's finance office did not have a record of those four invoices on Friday, said Kent Costin, Fargo finance director.

"The city feels it's owed about $13,000 ... and Epic said it's still owed some money. That's where the impasse appears," Johnson said.

Fargo will likely keep the hardware Epic supplied but plans to put out bids to get the system operational, Zavoral said.

Ben Dow, who was named public works director on Friday, will determine how much of the existing hardware can be used and what additional products the city will need to purchase, Zavoral said.

The Street Department requested $54,000 in the 2011 budget for projects similar to the systems Epic supplied, according to an e-mail from Costin.

City officials fired Weigel in March for ignoring the city's purchasing policy by steering business to Epic Solutions of Fargo without getting bids from competing firms. Wilkens and Epic Vice President Tim Marthe were also partners with Weigel in Quad Investments, a company that leases space to Epic.


Instead of putting together a proposal with all of the details of the project, Weigel was found to have broken payments into less than $10,000.

"As a result you have just the various components installed on several of the trucks," instead of the fully operational system, Johnson said.

The city's purchasing policy requires de­part­ment heads to solicit bids for any project over $25,000 and to get at least three quotes for purchases of $10,000 to $25,000.

Wilkens said his company was "very cooperative" in all of the investigation proceedings and has attempted to work with the city on problems.

"(Epic) was cleared of any wrongdoing, yet our name got drug through the mud," Wilkens said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511

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