De Blasio Critical of Bloomberg Over Long-Delayed 911 System Overhaul

Source: Bobby Cuza, NY1, February 7, 2015

On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to the $2 billion modernization of the city’s 911 system, a Bloomberg administration initiative begun in 2004, as “a project that had really gone wrong.”
The project is the subject of a blistering new report from the city Department of Investigation that found that “persistent mismanagement between 2004 and 2013” contributed to the project running 10 years behind schedule and some $700 million over budget….
DOI Investigation into the City’s Program to Overhaul the 911 System Reveals Significant Mismanagement at the Root of Cost Overruns and Delays
Source: City of New York, Department of Investigation, Release #03-2015, February 6, 2015

Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), issued a Report today on the City’s decade-long, multi-billion dollar effort to modernize its 911 system, known as the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (“ECTP”). The report, requested by Mayor Bill de Blasio last May, documents a number of management, oversight, and performance failures which caused the program to be years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over its original budget. As a result, the program has yet to fully deliver on its promise of a modernized 911 system that will more effectively respond to the health and safety needs of New Yorkers. …. The original schedule for ECTP projected the program would be completed in its entirety by September 2007, at a projected cost of $1.345 billion. According to current estimates, the program will not be fully delivered until 2017, nearly a decade behind schedule, and at a cost of approximately $2 billion dollars. When these delays and cost overruns became public early last year, Mayor de Blasio requested that DOI conduct this investigation to determine the cause of the problems and what changes were needed going forward. As part of its seven month investigation, DOI reviewed tens of thousands of documents, including copies of contracts, bids, progress reports, invoices, budget documents, and electronic communications. DOI also conducted more than 50 interviews with individuals involved with ECTP, conducted site visits and analyzed financial records related to the project ’ s budget. DOI found significant mismanagement, internal control weaknesses, and contractor performance deficiencies that created the conditions for the substantial delays and rising costs which have plagued the program. The report acknowledged significant steps the City has since taken to begin fixing these problems. DOI’s review identified an excessive reliance on consultants, leading to inflated markups on price estimates for products and services. In one instance, the sheer amount of sub-contractor s involved in the program resulted in inflated price estimates of as much as 600 percent on a specific service. ….

Stringer to Increase Oversight of New York City’s Computerization Contracts
Source: Kate Taylor, New York Times, April 2, 2014

A contractor revamping New York City’s 911 system billed the city $147 an hour for tasks that included opening an office door and having a large bug killed in the bathroom. A company hired to build an online procurement system for school principals bolstered profits by hiring low-paid programmers in India and Turkey, though it was supposed to employ only New Yorkers. …. Burned for years by boondoggles, fraud and delays in its biggest computerization contracts, the city is now putting in place measures that officials say could improve oversight and keep projects from spiraling out of control. The city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, is issuing a directive that he says will standardize how information technology contracts are handled across all city agencies. “No one has looked at the I.T. problems systematically,” Mr. Stringer said in a phone interview. “We’re now going to be able to have a systematic set of rules that will go a long way to cleaning up this scandal-plagued process.”