The City Time scandal had already been a point of contention between the Bloomberg administration and City Comptroller John Liu, and now their fight has spread to the City's emergency services. Yesterday Liu's office rejected a $286 million contract request for the city's Emergency Communications Transformation Program, (ECTP), an effort to update the city's 911 system—a project that, incidentally, was initially budged at $380 million and has since ballooned to $666 million.
In a letter to the mayor, Liu explained the rejection in relation to the recently discovered fraud in City Time, pointing out three major concerns his office has with the project:
- Time and expense billing arrangement, which does not encourage timely and efficient completion;
- Multiple layers of subcontractors, including quality assurance consultants;
- Significant cost overruns: original budget of $380 million now increased to $666 million and counting.
The goal of the ECTP when it started in April 2005 was to create a unified 911 emergency call center in Brooklyn with a backup in the Bronx. The contract was with HP. Six years later the Brooklyn center is a year behind schedule and is still not fully operational. Trying to keep things close-ish to schedule, the city was looking for a different contractor to build the Bronx center. That contract is what the comptroller rejected yesterday.
In response to Liu's letter, a spokesman for Bloomberg told the Journal "we will be working with the comptroller to resolve any concerns and ensure this important project, which has already improved public safety in the city, can move forward."
And just so nobody freaks out, Liu rejecting this contract will not immediately impact current 911 services.