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Mayor Says Scathing 911 Audit Charge Is 'Stupid'

Friday, June 01, 2012

Michael Bloomberg announces budget proposals. (Pool/Getty)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says an audit on the city's 911 call system shows "a new level of intellectual dishonesty" by Comptroller John Liu.

Liu said this week that a contractor hired by the city to overhaul its 911 system may have received millions in unjustified payments.

Bloomberg said Friday on WOR Radio that the contract was registered with Liu's office and finished under the budget approved by Liu's office. He questioned if Liu even read the contract.

Earlier this week, Liu has asked prosecutors to investigate whether there was any criminal fraud associated with the contract. The audit found that taxpayers were overbilled by as much as $163 million because of "severe mismanagement," as WNYC reported:

The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications bungled the contract with by Hewlett Packard, Liu said, causing the upgrade to incur as much as a $362 million cost overrun over the initial budget for the integration. The comptroller’s report, based on a 15-month review, also found that the department allowed Hewlett Packard to “drastically mark up subcontractor bills resulting in questionable billing."

The mayor said "what Liu missed" is that the city now has a brand new, state-of-the-art 911 system.

Added Bloomberg: "It's pretty hard to answer something as stupid as this charge."

Liu's spokesman, Peter Thorne, said the city failed to acknowledge its shortcomings and accept responsibility for the project's downfalls.

"And we will chalk up his name calling this morning to low blood sugar,” he said in a statement.

An earlier audit by Liu found the re-design was $1 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule, as WNYC reported:

The Bloomberg administration's re-design of the city's 911 emergency call system is $1 billion over-budget and seven years behind schedule, according to a comprehensive audit of the project by City Comptroller John Liu. The system re-design and planned new call centers were supposed to be completed by 2008 at a cost of $1.3 billion.
Liu told WNYC on Wednesday that the price tag is closer to $2.3 billion with a 2015 completion date — two years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves office. “Years of mismanagement have led to this incredibly enormous budget overrun, and to date, it is still not fully operational,” Liu told WNYC.

Liu's office had no immediate comment.

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