FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – With no vaccine or proven treatment, Texas health officials are betting big on a small Frisco company to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
Texas awarded a $295 million contract to MTX Group to coordinate the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
The relatively unknown tech company beat out six larger companies for the lucrative contract, including AT&T, IBM, Accenture, Maximus Health, and NTTA Data.
According to state records obtained by the CBS 11 News I-Team, MTX tied Accenture with the top proposal score but came in $15 million less. The proposals ranged from $110 million to $929 million.
Lawmakers have criticized the awarding of the contract for being hurried with no legislative oversight.
“There is no way they could have done an adequate vetting of the company,” said State Senator Bob Hall.
Hall is one of more than a dozen Texas lawmakers who have sent letters urging Governor Greg Abbott to stop the contract.
Hall, who is opposed to COVID-19 contact tracing, said he is concerned about MTX’s “questionable performance record” and lack of experience.
“I have seen companies try and bite off a project outside what they have experience to do,” said the District 2 Senator. “You don’t go from a $1-2 million contract company to managing a $300 million contract just because you want to do that.”
In a statement, a MTX spokesperson told the I-Team, “When you’re working on a taxpayer funded contract of this size and scope, scrutiny should be expected and we welcome it.”
In less than five years, founder and CEO Das Nobel has grown MTX from three employees to now nearly 1,000 with workers in New York, India, and Frisco.
Nobel is not shy about his ambition.
Nobel is known for frequently using the hashtag – #neversettle.
He has also made public his lofty plans to buy the Dallas Cowboys.
Less than a year ago, Nobel moved MTX’s headquarters from New York to an office in Frisco’s Hall Park business center.
MTX’s rapid growth is largely the result of a COVID-19 app it developed.
More than a dozen states, including Texas, currently use the app to track down those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus and then advise them to stay home.
According to a company video, the MTX disease monitoring and control app allows officials to screen entire communities by tracking their symptoms through a remote monitoring system by sending daily surveys via text messages.
The answers are then collected through an online portal where health officials view real-time data on the spread of the virus.
In Texas, MTX is also being paid to build and oversee a massive virtual call center to support thousands of contact tracers.
MTX has never done this before. In the company’s proposal evaluation state officials noted “call center staffing concerns.”
“I’ve seen nothing in their background that gives me confidence that they can do it,” Hall said.
The Texas Department of Health Services said MTX has so far met the requirements of the contract including hiring more than 600 contact tracers.
MTX said 100% of employees MTX hires for the Texas contract will be based in Texas.
A MTX spokesperson said, “Overall, we are proud to report that in these early stages, we are integrating seamlessly with our state partners and have already delivered on key milestones with this project.”
MTX is three months into a 27-month contract with Texas.
Nobel cancelled a scheduled interview with the CBS 11 and has since declined multiple requests for weeks to reschedule.
The company said Nobel is currently busy with deadlines and want to devote his entire focus to his clients.