CIVIC CENTER — City officials say a flub during a test of a system to automate child support payments is to blame for the mysterious deposit of nearly $300 million from city pension funds into the accounts of more than 31,000 police and fire department retirees back in April.
Employees at the city-run Financial Information Services Agency, which is responsible for overseeing the city's payroll, mistakenly caused the costly screwup by moving a test file into production during a review of a new program to automate child support payments to state authorities, according to a report on the incident released Thursday.
Investigators also found there were inadequate automated controls throughout the procedure, such as using real bank account numbers in the testing documents and keeping the same file names of real documents on the test files, according to the report.
City officials said they asked Chase Bank, which processed the electronic transfers, to reverse the payments — adding that 99 percent of the accidental payouts had been recovered by May 5. The remaining funds will be recouped through reductions of future benefit payments to retirees, they said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer, who are jointly responsible for overseeing FISA, called the mistake unacceptable and said the city has already taken action to ensure the situation doesn’t happen again.
"We will be actively monitoring FISA's compliance with these new protocols and will not hesitate to make any necessary changes to the agency to ensure that private information and taxpayer dollars are appropriately protected," de Blasio and Stringer said in a statement.