Mayor de Blasio is about to end the era of huge technology firms feeding off taxpayers with their legions of $500,000-a-year consultants camped at scores of city agencies for years.
On May 15, de Blasio’s top aides completed months of secret talks with the city’s largest municipal union on a far-reaching new “IT Insourcing” agreement.
First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris has committed in that pact, a copy of which the Daily News obtained, to “use city employees for IT work where it will achieve financial savings and improve service delivery, by reducing reliance on external IT consultants.”
City officials expect to save $3.6 million this year through the insourcing plan, but that figure could potentially rise to nearly $100 million over five years, according to the pact’s supporting documents.
De Blasio has thus turned into general policy an effort he began last year, when he took much of the city’s botched upgrade of the 911 system away from private contractors like Northrop Grumman and turned it over to municipal workers.
This signals a major shift by our city away from the “privatizing” or “outsourcing” model that has reigned in urban America for more than 20 years.
“There’s been a bias in too many places at using folks outside the public sector for certain city functions,” Shorris said Thursday. “We want to get away from a reliance on outsourcing things that don’t need to be outsourced.”
Mayor Bloomberg loved outsourcing everything he could - especially IT contracts.
And he defended this outsourcing even after the projects went years over budget or the outside consultants were found to be stealing millions from the city.
Here is part of a column from Adam Lisberg back in 2011 in the DN on that subject:
On his Friday radio show, he was asked about a new shift in city policy that had been in the newspaper for two days running - and didn't seem to know it had happened.
It's a shift on something that had been a sore point for Bloomberg's critics - outside contractors paid six-figure salaries for tech projects that blow deadlines and budgets, like the scandal-ridden CityTime system.
The mayor has long defended his administration's contracting policies, even though municipal unions and Controller John Liu say city workers could do the job for less.
So it was news last week when one of Bloomberg's deputy mayors, Stephen Goldsmith, agreed with critics and said New York will save tens of millions of dollars by bringing the work in-house.
On the radio, WOR-AM host John Gambling tossed Bloomberg a softball about it. But instead of explaining the new company line on insourcing, the mayor defended outsourcing.
"People say, 'Oh, you're spending too much money on outsiders.' If you didn't do that one contract outside, you'd have to have those people permanently on your staff," the mayor said.
"The consultants, they say, 'Oh, they charge a lot more.' Well, because that's the business," he continued. "They don't work all the time, so they have to get paid more. And sometimes they have expertise you don't have in-house."
CityTime, the 911 mess, the NYCDOE scandals (two here and here) the FDNY GPS mess, ARIS, the NYCHA computer mess - the Bloomberg Era incompetence on outsourcing goes on and on.
And yet, Bloomberg's pals in the news media gave him a pass then on this incompetence and they continue to give him a pass today.
Bloomberg was never personally held accountable for these.
It is good to see the current mayor change course and start to use municipal workers for these projects.