One of the last things Michael Bloomberg did as Mayor of New York on New Year’s Eve was award a $10 million contract to the now-notorious Canadian firm responsible for designing HealthCare.gov.
The firm was commissioned to overhaul New York City’s 311 non-emergency call operating system, according to the Daily News.
Newspapers and websites reported extensively on Mayor Bloomberg’s busy last week in office during which he passed through such legislation as the banning of styrofoam food containers and approved $12 billion in real estate projects. Among other plans Bloomberg executed before handing over the city to progressive stalwart Bill de Blasio, it is now revealed that Bloomberg commissioned the same firm that developed the severely flawed HealthCare.gov website to redesign and update the city’s 311 communications system, to the tune of $10 million this year.
The new system would be hosted, according to sources, on a cloud-based system, keeping information secure and available should more than one city computer system fail. The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications awarded the contract on New Year’s Eve. Should the firm, the Montreal-based CGI, need more time to continue developing the system or face unexpected challenges, the $10 million price tag could increase significantly.
Given CGI’s record, the likelihood that it will need more time to fully fix the system is great. The Daily News notes that a source familiar with the firm does not know of any experience CGI has with telephone systems like 311. The 311 system serves to notify residents of city news involving non-emergencies, such as trash pickup, parking regulations, and snow or ice removal.
The paper reports that the city’s Controller Scott Stringer, who is legally given the ability to object to a contract within thirty days, is conducting a “review” of the contract to see whether any other firms competing for the contract were clearly offering a superior quality service. Emergency responders also told the Daily News they were concerned about handing over such a contract to a firm with little experience in such a system, as a failure in the 311 system could prompt those seeking information on what days to dump their garbage outside to call 911 instead.
CGI has been awarded contracts by New York City before, though it is best known in the United States as the architect behind HealthCare.gov. Its work with the Obamacare website has been described as a “complete train wreck” by insiders and created a cascading effect of inconveniences for millions of Americans who found the website unable to accomplish basic tasks, paramount among them submitting an application. The New York Times estimated that up to “five million lines of code” needed fixing before the site could live up to the security and efficiency standards required for such a massive endeavor.
CGI spokespeople have countered that HealthCare.gov “worked as designed” and that they were unaware of any problems before October 1st, the site’s first launch date.