City Comptroller John Liu has been an embarrassment during his three years in office, but he is not always wrong. His recent audit of work on the city’s 911 emergency-response system raises some troubling questions about the practices of a vendor, Hewlett-Packard, that has received more than $100 million in city money over the last few years.
City Hall embarked on a huge overhaul of the 911 system several years ago, but the project has been bedeviled by flaws and cost overruns—originally projected at $1.3 billion, the overhaul has cost $2 billion thus far.
Mr. Liu’s audit suggests that HP charged the city for work it should not have performed under terms of the contract. The company billed the city for at least $2.5 million in inappropriate charges, Mr. Liu said, although he contended that the true figure could be as high as $50 million.
City Hall vehemently denies Mr. Liu’s accusations, but Mr. Liu has forwarded his report to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
It certainly could be true that Mr. Liu is playing politics here. But his report does have evidence that HP may have charged the city for such tasks as killing water bugs in restrooms, or removing trash for the eye-opening sum of $192 an hour.
These charges deserve investigation. And if HP did, in fact, bill the city for work it should not have performed, a refund surely is in order.
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