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City Comptroller Nixes Contract for 911 Call Center

Monday, January 03, 2011

The construction of a new 911 emergency call center in the Bronx has been rejected because it was too pricey and may have gone over budget, according to the city's comptroller.

The $286 million contract raised "serious red flags", according to Comptroller John Liu, whose sign-off was needed for the agreement with defense contractor Northrop-Grumman to go ahead with the plan.

In 2005, the city estimated the cost of building two emergency call centers at $380 million. But in a recent letter to Mayor Bloomberg, Liu noted the budget has now nearly doubled to $666 million and both planned call centers -- in the Bronx and in Brooklyn -- are incomplete. 

Liu claimed the contract's billing arrangement discourages efficient work habits and the multiple layers of contractors have the potential to send the project over budget. 

Mayor Bloomberg is working with Liu to resolve these concerns, according to a spokesman for the Mayor.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith is reviewing all the city's large information technology projects following allegations of an $80 million scam involving contracts to build a computerized payroll system for city workers, known as CityTime. The price tag for that project has ballooned to $600 million, nearly 10 times the initial estimate.

It's not clear whether the 911 call center is a part of Goldsmith's review.

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