Cemusa, the company that New York City contracted to manage its bus and bike shelters, newsstands, trash cans, and (rare) public toilets, is not really doing a great job at keeping its structures clean, according to a new audit from the Comptroller's office. The problem? Cemusa has found out it can be hard to maintain all those structures—which is part of why the city gave up on the job in the first place!
As part of its 2006 deal with the city, Cemusa gets to smack advertisements all over its structures for the twenty years, but it also has to maintain them at its own expense. That includes twice weekly inspections and cleanings on non-consecutive days. But that's a real chore, y'know? So Cemusa, with the DOT's permission, subcontracted those duties out.
Something called DynaServ Industries "is responsible for cleaning, inspecting, and posting advertisements," and another company called Pipeline Construction, LLC "was responsible for repairing and replacing damaged parts and performing electrical repairs and annual electrical inspections." And that's where the problems start. Take it away, Comptroller's office:
For the audit test period, Cemusa’s subcontractor, DynaServ, did not service (inspect and clean) the bus stop shelters at the level required. DynaServ’s productivity expectations (the number of shelters that can be cleaned by each crew in one shift) are overly optimistic and DynaServ has not allocated sufficient resources to ensure that each shelter will be cleaned twice each week on non-consecutive days as required. The audit also showed that Cemusa’s other subcontractor, Pipeline, needed to improve its performance in regard to responding promptly and repairing reported defective conditions. Further, there was insufficient evidence that all electrical inspections were carried out as reported.
To deal with these problems (which are nothing new, remember two winters ago when the city had to pay to shovel shelters Cemusa was supposed to be shoveling?) the Comptroller has some pretty basic suggestions, like making more realistic goals about cleaning with its subcontractors, making sure they have enough resources and finally developing a "more formal and proactive strategy along with associated procedures" to make sure this stops happening. Not too bad, right?
Cemusa, when presented with the audit, agreed with five of the city's eight proposals, for various reasons (read them all for yourself in this PDF). But the Comptroller's office gets the last word on this one: "Cemusa’s response included objections to some of our findings. After carefully reviewing the arguments in the response, however, we see no reason to alter our findings." Oh, John Liu, getting feisty!