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Public Employee Press
By GREGORY N. HEIRES
During a meeting with the union on Sept. 4, top officials of the New York Police Dept. discussed their plans to phase out computer consultants and boost in-house information technology and clerical-administrative staff.
The labor-management meeting dealt with workplace clerical staffing issues.
"We are encouraged by the tone of the new management team at the NYPD," said Robert Ajaye, president of Data Processing Personnel Local 2627, "but we are still waiting to find out about any new hiring."
The meeting occurred a month after Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a stinging report about the NYPD's poor oversight of contractors responsible for upgrading its troubled emergency communications system.
The cost of the project ballooned from $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion and the new system was delayed for years and marred by malfunctions when it finally went online in May 2013.
During the meeting, Jessica S. Tisch, NYPD's new deputy commissioner of information technology, discussed restructuring the department's IT operations. Deputy Commissioner of Labor Relations John Bierne also attended the meeting.
Part of the plan, Tisch said, would be to drop consultants and assign more of the work in-house, which would require increasing the civil service staff. The department wants to "take control of the contractors" and "tell them what to do" rather than acceding control over operations to them, she said.
The union's team at the meeting included DC 37 Associate Director Henry Garrido, Ajaye and Local 2627 Vice President Michael Lanni, Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez and Local 1549 911 Chair John Armstrong, Assistant General Counsel Steven Sykes, Assistant Director Moira Dolan of the Research and Negotiations Dept. and Director Renee Gainer and Assistant Director Kenneth Mulligan of the Clerical-Administrative Division,
Rodriguez asked the NYPD to address what he described as the poor working conditions of the 911 operators, who face tremendous stress on the job. He urged management to improve training opportunities and lower the passing scores for hiring and promotional exams.
"We appreciate that the new administration seems to have heard our message that the city's contracting practices have been marred by corruption and inefficiency," Garrido said. "There needs to be a better balance between civil servants and consultants. We have consistently argued - and shown through our research - that our members can be counted on to do the job more efficiently than contractors. As civil servants, they have the true interest of the city at heart."
The day after the meeting, columnist Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to cancel a $13.2 million contract with NASA, which had assigned up to 20 consultants to the project with average annual salaries of $250,000.
In May, de Blasio put the project, known as the Emergency Communications Transformation Program, on hold while the Dept. of Information Technology & Telecommunications, the Dept. of Investigations and the Comptroller carried out investigations.
"Instead of strong City governance, the project outsourced critical responsibilities to consultants who were insufficiently accountable to the City," Stringer said in a statement when he released his office's review in August.
"Layers of consultants, middle-men and outsourcing have resulted in 10 years of delays and hundreds of millions in cost overruns to the City's upgrade of its 911 system. This program produced an outrageous waste of funds due to the lack of oversight and accountability. It's time to fix this boondoggle once and for all."