Requests City Hall Review of Technology Project to Prevent “CityTime 2”
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu today called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to immediately review the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP) as part of the comprehensive evaluation of technology projects as charged to Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith by the Mayor, in the wake of the CityTime scandal.
Comptroller Liu’s office rejected a $286 million contract request from the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) for the ECTP project. The cost of the project has mushroomed from the $380 million initial budget to now $666 million, without discernable changes in the scope of ECTP.
In a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, Comptroller Liu cited the rejection as an “opportunity to gain synergy from Deputy Mayor Goldsmith’s efforts to make sure that additional measures or safety nets are installed to prevent waste and fraud.” Of particular concern is that the bulk of the contract is allotted to unspecified ‘time and expense’ costs. This type of vague budgeting formula allows outside consultants to bill on an hourly basis and collect exorbitant fees, as in the case of the CityTime project.
Comptroller Liu continued, “The ECTP is an important project that has been initiated for the purpose of improving public safety for New Yorkers. It’s all the more important that it gets done on a timely basis and within our means.”
In May, Comptroller Liu released a report outlining the problems associated with large IT projects undertaken by the City. Comptroller Liu’s report provided a number of recommendations to ensure better oversight of IT projects. The report is available at:
In April of 2005, the City projected the cost of establishing two unified (FDNY, NYPD, FDNY-EMS) 911 emergency call center systems, one in Brooklyn and a second redundant backup system in the Bronx at $380 million. The contract was awarded to Hewlett-Packard. Six years later, the Brooklyn Center is still not fully operational and one year behind schedule.
The Emergency Communications Transformation Program was troubled by findings of poor management and less than satisfactory oversight by the original vendor, which necessitated a second Request for Proposals to be released for the Bronx facility.
In late November, DoITT submitted a $286 million contract to the Comptroller’s Office to hire Northrop Grumman to begin work on establishing the Bronx call center system. As part of Comptroller Liu’s due diligence in reviewing DoITT’s submission, serious red flags emerged, and a request for a full analysis of the cost estimate was issued. DoITT provided the Comptroller’s Office with additional documentation, but it was not sufficient to answer significant outstanding questions. Last week, Comptroller Liu rejected the contract.