City investigators have discovered evidence of large-scale fraud in one of the agencies leading Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature initiative to find jobs for unemployed New Yorkers.
The Department of Investigation found that Seedco, a nonprofit organization that frequently works with the Bloomberg administration, falsely claimed to have helped at least 1,400 people — out of about 6,500 — find jobs; those people are in fact jobless or found employment on their own.
Seedco “developed systematic practices to report false placements” to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, according to a report on the investigation that was released on Friday.
The reports of fraud come as a blow to Mr. Bloomberg, who sought a third term based on his ability to lead the city in a tough economy and has heralded his administration’s success in finding jobs for unemployed New Yorkers. The mayor has praised the role nonprofit groups, paid by the city, have had in the jobs effort.
The employees at Seedco also described a culture of unrelenting pressure from the Bloomberg administration to produce data showing that the job placement effort was working. Each year, city officials increased the targets for placements, even in the midst of a deep recession. The city required contract agencies to give weekly, monthly and quarterly reports of progress. City officials graded their progress, giving good marks to those with high numbers of placements, and poor grades to those that fell behind.
Agencies producing high numbers of job placements are given “performance-based” bonuses. And Seedco, at the time of the fraudulent job placements, was competing for a new multimillion-dollar contract to run a work force center in the Bronx.
Seedco employees told city investigators that they believed they would lose their jobs if they failed to reach their goals.
Internal memorandums and e-mails, uncovered by the Department of Investigation and Seedco, reveal directors and staff members discussing unethical and, in some cases, outright fraudulent behavior.
Gee, I'm sure now that we're going to put unrelenting pressure upon schoolteachers to raise student test scores every year or be fired, they'll be no unethical or outright fraudulent behavior by employees of the school system trying to save their jobs.
And if there is any of that, we'll just blame the "bad teachers" instead of the unrealistic goals and benchmarks pushed by Bloomberg and his corporate managers.
Because it's never the fault of the most brilliant mind to ever run New York City - the Mayor of Money himself, Michael Bloomberg.
None of the cronyism, corruption, or criminal activity of city employees and/or the consultants hired by the city seen on his watch is ever his fault.
CityTime and the theft of $600 million in city money - not his fault.
Money laundering through the Independence Party - not his fault.
NYPD ticket fixing scandal - not his fault.
NYPD gun-running - not his fault.
NYPD planting drugs on victims to increase arrest stats - not his fault.
Judith Hederman/FTA/NYCDOE scandal - not his fault.
Willard Lanham/NYCDOE scandal - not his fault.
Faulty GPS systems - not his fault.
Faulty NYCHA computer system - not his fault.
And of course the systematic fraud perpetrated at Seedco, encouraged by the Bloomberg administration's own obsession with data, stats and "performance" - not Bloomberg's fault either.
Bloomberg is very big on the performance of city employees - so much so that he's willing to spend $700 million over budget just to make sure they punch in and punch out at the right time - but when it comes to tracking his own performance as steward of the city and its finances - it's never his responsibility and it's never his fault when things go wrong or money gets stolen.
Must be those damned teachers...