Bill de Blasio came into office making all sorts of promises about transparency, and while there have been a few fundraising bumps along the way, he also put the full Fiscal Year 2017 Budget online and made it searchable for any asshole who can use Excel. Mayor Tall might be rethinking the wisdom of that move though, given that Ben Wellington, NYC's number one numbers geek, found a glaring $791 million typo in the NYPD's budget that everyone who voted for the bill seems to have missed.
Wellington was looking through the NYPD budget numbers when he noticed that according to the budget passed by the City Council, $791 million was earmarked for "Protection of Foreign Missions." That amount of money, Wellington pointed out on his blog, was more than the total dollars allotted for "School Safety, Transit, Housing and Narcotics combined!"
However, Wellington pegged the huge allocated expenditure as a likely (very unfortunate) typo, noting that in 2012 Ray Kelly had stated protecting foreign missions cost the city $27 million, and that last year's budget didn't have "Protection of Foreign Missions" but did have a similar budget number listed for "Chief of Department."
In response to our inquiry, a spokesman for the Mayor's office clarified that it was indeed a typo:
This is a misprint in the identification of the allocation and not in the actual monetary amount. Though it appears in budget documents made public, it does not affect actual operations or monetary allocations. OMB’s Budget Function Analysis reflects the correct identification, which should read “Chief of Department” and not “Protection of Foreign Missions.” The latter is simply a subcategory of the former. We are working on fixing this misprint in the publicly shared Supporting Schedule and on Open Data. Chief of Department funds are used for a plethora of things, including overtime pay, longevity, shift differential and holiday pay. Protection of Foreign Missions falls under “Chief of Department” and was allocated approximately $25 million in FY17.
So, good news is that we're not actually spending a billion dollars to protect the Consulate General of Luxembourg. The bad news is the City Council took a look at this budget and no one said, "Hey what's this billion dollars set aside for guarding Luxembourg's consulate?"