Nobody Minded Store on 911-System Shift, Leading to Boondoggle

Chief Leader – August 12, 2014


The Bloomberg administration mismanaged its 911- system overhaul and relied too heavily on poorly-monitored outside contractors, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, Comptroller Scott Stringer and the city Department of Investigation charged Aug. 6.

The Comptroller issued a critical 24-page report two months after Mayor de Blasio in June halted all new expenditures for the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP) to allow for its review.

Went $1B Over Budget

The report found that cost estimates for the overhaul have reached $2.3 billion, up from $1.34 billion in 2004. It noted that the overhaul intended to last five years is now projected to take 15, and charged that the complete cost of the project wasn’t disclosed to taxpayers. It may have been understated by more than $200 million, the report said.

“Layers of consultants, middlemen and outsourcing have resulted in 10 years of delays and hundreds of millions in cost overruns to the city’s upgrade of its 911 system,” the Comptroller added in a statement. “This program produced an outrageous waste of funds due to the lack of oversight and accountability.”

The emergency-call system was targeted for upgrade after it failed to adequately handle the high volume of calls during city emergencies, particularly during an August 2003 blackout. Former Deputy Mayor for Operations Caswell Holloway described the old system in City Council hearings as antiquated, decades-old mainframe technology with few modern features.

But Mr. Bloomberg’s original vision—creating a unified center in Brooklyn where fire, police and EMS responses could be coordinated, along with a backup center in The Bronx—has only been partly fulfilled.

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