De Blasio Calls Bloomberg 911 Overhaul a ‘Plan Gone Very Wrong’

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the Bloomberg administration's efforts to overhaul the city's emergency 911 system was a "plan gone very wrong."

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio today said the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to overhaul the city’s emergency 911 system was a “plan gone very wrong,” reiterating the scathing findings released in a Department of Investigation report this morning.

“Too much money is being spent, the results were not good enough, the checks and balances were not good enough,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters at an unrelated Manhattan press conference. “We suspended it when we saw early in the administration that this was something that was not working.”

In 2004, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s City Hall embarked on an effort to upgrade the city’s 911 system, known as the Emergency Communications Transformation Program, which called for upgrading radio system,s 911 call-taking, and computer-aided dispatching, and for co-locating fire, police and emergency medical services call-taking under the same roof. The project was set to be complete in 2007, but a second call-taking center still has yet to open and the FDNY is still not using new dispatch software.

DOI’s 105-page report, released this morning, blamed “persistent mismanagement” under the Bloomberg administration for the project being a decade behind schedule and $700 million over budget.

Mr. de Blasio ordered a halt to the project in May. He said today that his administration would take a different approach to completing the project, backing away from the outside consultants and vendors the DOI report found were unable to adequately complete working, driving up costs and increasing delays.

“It’s going to get done and it’s going to improve our system,” he said.

Former Bloomberg officials have strenuously pushed back against the report, with former deputy mayor Cas Holloway authoring his own lengthy report to serve as a rebuttal to the city’s.

“By any objective standard, ECTP must be judged a major success—at least through the end of the Bloomberg Administration, by which time a completely new, vastly more reliable and redundant 911 system had successfully processed nearly 25 million emergency calls,” he wrote.

Mr. de Blasio said he the former officials had a right to respond, but said it was clear the project had been troubled. The DOI report also alleged that City Hall officials at the time had sought to spin the project as moving along better than it truly was.

“It was very troubling,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I think we all want to think he best of people in public service, but to find out such a serious problem was going undressed and unacknowledged, that is troubling,” Mr. de Blasio said. De Blasio Calls Bloomberg 911 Overhaul a ‘Plan Gone Very Wrong’