The city's 911 system, which has been plagued with issues despite costing $2 billion to implement, is about to receive a series of overhauls following two scathing reviews from the Department of Investigation and the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, respectively.
The DoITT review determined the project—called the Emergency Communications Transformation Program, or ECTP—currently relies too heavily on external consultants, with an abundance of overpaid middlemen sucking up money and clogging the projects' progress. Many will be eliminated to save costs and streamline the process. The review also calls for better inclusion of stakeholder agencies—the FDNY and NYPD being two important ones—to help more effectively execute the program.
To further eliminate excess bulk, the review recommends that large, unwieldy aspects of the project be broken into more manageable projects, reduce "layers of vendors," and appoint a leader to oversee contracts and the remaining vendors.
“As public servants, our first priority is public safety, and we do not take that charge lightly. That is why this Administration ordered this review, and it’s why the changes we have outlined today will improve the City’s emergency response communications program for generations to come,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “We have identified the problems that have long plagued the ECTP, and we’re committed to taking the necessary corrective action to ensure the program is brought back on track, within our means and ahead of schedule."
A separate review conducted by the Department of Investigation found a startling degree of mismanagement. While the report says the department has not uncovered any overtly illegal activity, the project has been stunningly mishandled, devoid of clear leadership, sufficient advanced planning and clear objectives, as well as the failure to appoint a customary "integrity monitor," an obvious necessity.
“For folks at City Hall to move forward the past five years on a project of this size without a single person in charge, without having a well-defined game plan, and without an independent monitor is nothing short of governmental malpractice,” Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters told the Daily News.
The ECPT has been sharply criticized for several crucial delays in emergency response times, in addition to the fact that it was rolled out several years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over budget.