An independent report warns that New York City could be too reliant for the foreseeable future on the company that has built the troubled and expensive CityTime automated payroll system.
The report, dated Jan. 12 and prepared by the KPMG consulting firm, says that unless the company, Science Applications International Corporation, known as SAIC, provides detailed instructions and other critical plans explaining how to operate the complex and highly customized payroll system, no other company will be able to run it. A copy of the report was made available to The New York Times through a Freedom of Information request to the office of John C. Liu, the city comptroller.
The city had been preparing to solicit bids in the next couple of weeks for a contract to operate CityTime, for an estimated $30 million a year, once SAIC completes installation of the system, now scheduled to be finished by June 30.
And while SAIC may well be one of the bidders, city officials wanted to inject some competition into a bedeviled project that, at a cost of more than $700 million and running, had become the focus of an $80 million federal corruption case.
The system’s cost and the criminal investigation have been a major embarrassment for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
In a statement released Thursday, Mr. Liu, who has been critical of CityTime since taking office a year ago, warned that SAIC could hold “an indefinite monopoly” on the system.
“The emerging product holds the client — the City of New York — hostage to one company, the project’s developer,” Mr. Liu said. “Proprietary systems like this require a relationship in perpetuity, which stifles competition, fails to ensure superior goods and services, and is a poor business practice that the city simply cannot afford.”
SAIC has been subpoenaed in the corruption case, but it is not believed to be a target of any investigation.
Instead, the federal inquiry, in which six people have been charged, has centered on people working for Spherion, a quality-assurance subcontractor for SAIC.
Last month, Joel Bondy, the executive director of the Office of Payroll Administration, which oversaw CityTime, was suspended without pay and then resigned.
SAIC has been criticized, repeatedly, for the cost of the project.
When asked about the KPMG report, Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, did not echo Mr. Liu’s outrage.
“The report confirms that once we address some outstanding issues — issues that are being addressed — the system can be transferred to another entity for operation,” Mr. La Vorgna said. “Our goal is to have a system primarily operated by city employees. The comptroller is well aware of all of this.”
So much for accountability.