We can now add kickbacks to the list of troubles to strike CityTime, the city's employee time keeping program whose budget went from $63 million to $722 million currently at the center of an $80 million dollar embezzlement scandal. And Mark Mazer, the alleged mastermind who helped fleece the program? Turns out he had a longer criminal history than previously reported.
But first, the kickbacks. At the heart of the scandal is a company called Spherion, which was in charge of the day-to-day quality assurance for the program. That's where Mazer worked and where suspended Office of Payroll Administration executive director Joel Bondy used to work. In 2005 it was decided that Spherion needed somebody to oversee their work and so they persuaded the city to hire Gartner to consult. Gartner in turn, with the OPA's permission naturally, gave 20% of their $132,000 fee back to Spherion. Which certainly sounds like a kickback to us.
Meanwhile, the News dug deeper into the Mark Mazer's past and found that not only had he been charged with sexual harassment twice—in 1995 and 1996—when he worked for the city but he was also questioned in 1994 regarding a missing $2 million from a Child Welfare Administration program he worked for. And in 1998 he was questioned again regarding stolen city laptops that were under his care (the case is sealed but records show he pled guilty to disorderly conduct and left city government in November 2000). All of which clearly made him the perfect person to be working such a costly program in the first place, right?
And in case you thought that Mayor Bloomberg's opponents were just taking this lying down, you clearly haven't met Comptroller John Liu. In a letter to the mayor Liu ripped into hizzoner's take on the skirmish. Well, not exactly ripped, but certainly he wasn't nice. "I must respectfully disagree with your comments from Friday suggesting that big software projects can be expected to go over budget," Liu wrote. "With all our budget challenges we cannot afford to equivocate on the need for strong management and budgetary compliance." He continued by adding that "the CityTime scandal makes it abundantly clear that the city must have a system in place that properly tracks and assesses sub-contracts as well as prime-contracts, including invoices, timesheets and explanations of work performed, in order to seriously reign-in the potential for waste, fraud, abuse and certainly embezzlement." Snap! Also, true.