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Juan González: Overhaul of NYC’s 911 System Woefully Mismanaged & Nearly $1 Billion Over Budget

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In a front-page report for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González exposes the troubles plaguing New York City’s overhaul of its 911 communications system. The NYC Department of Investigation found the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg mismanaged the upgrade with multiple layers of unaccountable private consultants and vendors, putting the project nearly $1 billion over budget and 10 years behind schedule.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, you have a cover story in the New York Daily News today.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, yes. Well, I’m reporting in today’s Daily News on a new report by the New York City Department of Investigations on something I’ve been covering now for over five years, which is the massive overhaul in the previous Bloomberg administration of the city’s vital 911 emergency communications system. And it’s a really startling report.

It shows that—among other things, the report shows that the city—that the project is 10 years behind schedule and has increased by over a billion dollars in cost during the period since it began in 2005. It also—the report also finds that the city officials tried to order their employees to sanitize their reports to minimize the problems that the program had. It found that officials also hid about $200 million in additional costs on the projects in the budgets of different city agencies, so no one could really know how much the costs—the project was spiraling out of control. And it finds that the private consultants were running amok, basically with very little control, driving up the prices to the city, sometimes as much as—mark-ups of 600 percent. And we’re talking about major companies. We’re talking about Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Northrop Grumman, Verizon. These were the companies that were devising this system.

And it’s another example of what I’ve been calling one of the biggest scandals in modern government, local and state government, which is these huge technology projects that are supposed to create efficiencies in government, but actually end up as boondoggles. This is now the latest one. Thankfully, the new de Blasio administration has sent a whole lot of those private consultants packing now and is bringing a lot of the work in-house to have government workers and government managers in charge of it. And we’ll see if that makes a big difference in the future. But it’s a really astonishing report of a decade-long project that went awry.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I hope you continue to give us reports like this, and the biggest one you broke was CityTime. That was the biggest financial scandal in New York.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, actually, this is bigger in money, but in CityTime, about a dozen people ended up being indicted.

AMY GOODMAN: Which was about the?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was the city’s payroll system, computerizing the payroll system for 300,000 city workers. And that ended up with a dozen people arrested and most of them sent to long prison terms as a result, because that was outright fraud. This is just rampant mismanagement at this level, not direct fraud.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll link to your piece at democracynow.org.

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