RE-IMAGINING THE OFFICE OF NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER

STRINGER PROPOSES APPOINTING AN “IT CZAR” TO WORK WITH CITY AGENCIES TO ELIMINATE WASTE AND FRAUD
August 27th, New York, NY – Citing the city’s history of enormous cost over-runs with large technology contracts, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer today outlined his proposal to appoint an ―IT Czar‖ to monitor and audit major information technology projects across all agencies as part of his campaign to re-imagine the city Comptroller’s office. ―We need to reboot the way we monitor large technology contracts, because clearly taxpayers have not been getting their money’s worth,‖ said Stringer. ―As comptroller, I will focus like a laser on rooting out waste and fraud in every corner of the city’s budget, so that we can invest the savings in growing jobs, supporting our schools and other program that really matter to working people.‖ As Comptroller, Scott will appoint an IT Contracting ―Czar‖ to help ensure more efficient and effective technology procurements. The IT Czar will work with agencies from the beginning of the contracting process to make sure that taxpayers are protected from waste and fraud. In addition, this office will be empowered with the authority to initiate audits of existing IT projects, as well as the ability to utilize the office's contracting and auditing powers. Stringer noted that too many IT contracts also rely on networks of shadowy subcontractors and sub-sub contractors. Every contractor adds ―pass through‖ costs, costing taxpayers millions. The contract review process must be improved so that the City has the ability to limit the amount of expensive, subcontracted work that can get passed along to taxpayers. Over the past decade, the City has taken on substantial information technology (―IT‖) projects designed to improve service delivery and improve efficiency. Far too often, however, these projects end up under-delivering and over budget. The most well-known is CityTime, a software program designed to improve the City’s payroll system using complex technology, including biometric readers. In 2002, the Office of Payroll Administration (OPA) expected CityTime to cost $73 million. Within a year, however, OPA requested a contract modification to $100 million. The modifications only grew — to $244 million, then $329 million, and beyond. By 2009, seven modifications had been approved, ballooning the project’s cost to over $625 million.

While the CityTime scandal is well known, it is unfortunately not alone among technology projects that have run off the rails in recent years. In 2004, following the August 2003 blackout that affected millions of New Yorkers, the City launched the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP) in order to consolidate FDNY, NYPD, and EMS emergency communications and improve the performance of the City’s 9-1-1 system. Almost immediately, the project ran into significant trouble. In April 2007, an internal memo from the then-Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) raised questions about poor management of subcontractors by vendors. DoITT, as well as the NYPD and FDNY, recommended that the contract be cancelled and re-bid. Last year, the Comptroller found that the ECTP was $1 billion over-budget and nearly seven years behind schedule.1 Other projects, like NYCAPS and NYCWiN, have also cost taxpayers billions and haven’t produced the results we demand.2

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http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120321/POLITICS/120329966. http://www.muniwireless.com/2012/04/15/new-york-city-cto-resigns-over-public-safety-wireless-networkproblems/; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/24/nyregion/bloombergs-computer-project-for-personnel-dataleads-to-waste.html?pagewanted=all.

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