September 10, 2010
Union leaders representing over 7,000 of New York City’s engineers, architects, and technical professionals were joined by other union leaders and five members of the New York City Council today to ask New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to pull back the CityTime payroll management system contract which has already cost the City $780 million and promises to go well over the $1 billion mark. CityTime, originally conceived as a payroll system to increase efficiency in government at a cost of $68 million, has spiraled out of control and is being audited by New York City Comptroller John Liu.
At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, Behrouz Fathi, an Engineer with New York City Transit and President of Local 375 said: “At a time when the City workers are facing layoffs and essential services are being cut, we don’t need a $1 billion boondoggle that will bleed City funds for at least another decade.”
“The City must change course on “CityTime,” said Jon Forster of Local 375. “This has been an irresponsible expenditure to fix something that wasn’t broken.” He noted that the CityTime payroll system was called “a disaster” by Mayor Mike Bloomberg last March 1. Yet the Mayor has not pulled the plug on “CityTime.”
Local 375, DC 37 and other unions were joined by City Councilmember Leticia James, who called for the main contractor, SAIC, to return what she said were overpayments, and by Councilmembers Daniel Dromm, Anabel DePalma, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Jumaane Williams. An ongoing series about CityTime in the Daily News has shown that over 230 consultants for SAIC are each making an average of $400,000 per year from the contract.
Oliver Gray of District Council 37, said that the Council views CityTime as “a huge taxpayer funded giveaway to consultants,” and called on the Mayor to scale down the program immediately and bring it in-house.
Forster noted that, of a City workforce of nearly 180,000, only about 70,000 are now covered by the CityTime system, and many of those workers and managers have run into intractable problems with the software. A City Worker with the Department of City Planning said, “I still remember when I was allowed to devote ALL my time and energy to agency projects but today a disproportionate amount of my time gets diverted to Webclock issues.”
CityTime has also raised darker issues of workplace surveillance directed against City employees that threatens their privacy. The system can gather personal identifying data in many ways, including hand geometry, voice recognition, digitized fingerprint scans, and RFID chips.