NEW YORK — The city’s controversial new $2.1 billion 911 call system overcharged taxpayers by as much as $163 million and has been grossly mismanaged to a level that may constitute fraud, said a report City Comptroller John Liu released Wednesday.
Liu's report claims that the city's contractor, Hewlett-Packard, was not qualified to complete the project, which was intended to streamline and modernize the city's emergency calling system, and that the company allowed its contractors to charge far more than what was allowed.
The result, he added, is another botched city project like the scandal-plagued CityTime payroll system.
Liu has now asked the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to review the findings because of the potential for fraud.
“We have long feared that CityTime was not an isolated incident, and unfortunately what we have learned today is that our fear has become a reality,” Liu said in a statement. “With one month to go before the city’s budget is ratified, and with devastating cuts on the table, taxpayers should be outraged at the fleecing that transpired under City Hall’s watch.”
This is the second report Liu has released about the 911 call system in recent months. The last one came out in March and slammed the project for being seven years behind schedule and a billion dollars over budget, according to a statement.
The call system also faced scrutiny earlier this month when a report commissioned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg found that the system was riddled with problems that were creating increased response times.
But in a statement, Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, defended the selection of Hewlett-Packard. He said HP’s oversight of consultants working on the project was “satisfactory” and that the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications took steps to improve HP’s performance when the agency found deficiencies back in 2007.
“The HP work is complete and came in $34 million under the budget registered by the comptroller’s office,” LaVorgna said.
“The facts remain that we completely overhauled a system we inherited that was on its last legs, and the city now is better at responding to emergencies than ever,” he added.