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NY. NYC Computer-System Cash-Dump Disaster

January 15, 2011

New York City threw away a mountain of cash over a new computer system. Now, finally, someone is going to pay.

In January 2009, a tantalizing and disturbing comment materialized on an Internet bulletin board about an expensive and controversial Bloomberg administration project to automate the city’s payroll system, known as CityTime.

The anonymous author alleged that the project was hopelessly corrupt and out of control and had been for years. The writer, who claimed to have been employed on the project, went on to name three people he alleged were responsible for that corruption.

The commenter accused a consultant, Mark Mazer, of being “the most crooked person on the team,” and said consultant Scott Berger was building a home in Florida at city expense.

“Mark Mazer and Scott had ONLY one main intent . . . to pocket the $/hr for themselves for as long as possible @ taxpayer expense,” the commenter wrote. Referring to the former consultant later appointed to oversee the project, the commenter added, “The project in its 5th year was a failure and should have been canned, but Joel Bondy for some reason or another decided it must go on for another 5 yrs.”

Berger, who worked for a CityTime consultant called Spherion, Mazer, and four other people were indicted last month for defrauding the city of $80 million. 

NYC’s Computer-System Cash-Dump Disaster

New York City threw away a mountain of cash over a new computer system. Now, finally, someone is going to pay.

A A A Comments (17) By Graham Rayman Wednesday, Jan 12 2011

Photo-Illustration by Andrea Levy

In January 2009, a tantalizing and disturbing comment materialized on an Internet bulletin board about an expensive and controversial Bloomberg administration project to automate the city’s payroll system, known as CityTime.

The anonymous author alleged that the project was hopelessly corrupt and out of control and had been for years. The writer, who claimed to have been employed on the project, went on to name three people he alleged were responsible for that corruption.

The commenter accused a consultant, Mark Mazer, of being “the most crooked person on the team,” and said consultant Scott Berger was building a home in Florida at city expense.

“Mark Mazer and Scott had ONLY one main intent . . . to pocket the $/hr for themselves for as long as possible @ taxpayer expense,” the commenter wrote. Referring to the former consultant later appointed to oversee the project, the commenter added, “The project in its 5th year was a failure and should have been canned, but Joel Bondy for some reason or another decided it must go on for another 5 yrs.”

The comment went on to lay out in more or less clear terms exactly what was taking place in the CityTime project.

That posting appears to have disappeared into the depths of the Internet, but it turned out to be prescient.

Berger, who worked for a CityTime consultant called Spherion, Mazer, and four other people were indicted last month for defrauding the city of $80 million—a theft that made the Mafia’s $6 million Lufthansa heist in 1978 look like a bodega stickup job.

Supposedly acting as “quality assurance” consultants, Mazer, Berger, and their accomplices are instead accused of falsifying payments to shell companies, pocketing the proceeds, and making up phony time cards for work they never performed. The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Bondy, meanwhile, was suspended without pay following the indictments and forced to resign as the head of Bloomberg’s Office of Payroll Administration. He could face indictment as well. Bondy, it emerged, not only was a former CityTime consultant, but had also worked with Mazer in the past, yet he didn’t disclose those ties until years later.

Originally slated in 1998 to cost $63 million over five years, CityTime has cost the city more than $760 million over its 12 beleaguered years of existence. Despite all that expense, the system is operating in only about a third of all city agencies.

Read More: http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-01-12/news/nyc-payroll-computer-system-citytime/3/

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