Updated 02/06/2013 12:54 PM
NY1 Exclusive: Liu Audits Consumer Affairs Contract After Cost Jumps Millions
NY1 has learned City Comptroller John Liu is calling for an investigation into a multi-million dollar city contract at the Department of Consumer Affairs. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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City Comptroller John Liu is raising serious concerns over another city contract
"It seems like there are tons of red flags that point to fraud. This is a problem the agency needs to open itself up and allow city auditors to do their job," Liu said.
This time Liu is talking about the Department of Consumer Affairs and a company called Gartner, which was contracted to oversee the creation of an online portal aimed at streamlining the licensing process for city businesses.
But in a letter to the Department of Consumer Affairs, Liu's office says the contract is questionable.
Time sheets by the company raised red flags as the number of consultants working on the project was inconsistent, growing from two to six. The initial contract was for $2.7 million. It's now $11.5 million.
Liu says the Department of Consumer Affairs stonewalled the investigation and is now referring the case to the city's Department of Investigation.
"They have never gotten this much interference from any city agency before. This is impeding my office from our charter mandated responsibility," Liu said.
This latest complaint from the comptroller comes after a massive payroll contract scandal known as CityTime. That was a project that Liu frequently criticized.
In response to Liu, the city Department of Consumer Affairs issued a statement which read, "The Citywide Accela project will replace decades-old systems to greatly enhance online customer service for businesses, and today's irresponsible misrepresentation by the Comptroller's Office in their unfinished audit ignores the fact that the Department made each requested witness and every one of the thousands of documents fully available. We believe that DOI's review will show that the project has been properly managed."
Gartner says they fully cooperated with Liu's audit.