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NYC Drops $722M On CityTime Attendance System

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.

Government 306

theodp writes "New York City is reportedly paying 230 consultants an average annual salary of $400K for a computer project that is seven years behind schedule and vastly over budget. The payments continue despite Mayor Bloomberg's admission that the computerized timekeeping and payroll system — dubbed CityTime — is 'a disaster.' Eleven CityTime consultants rake in more than $600K annually, with three of them making as much as $676,000. The 40 highest-paid people on the project bill taxpayers at least $500K a year. Some of the consultants have been working at these rates for as long as a decade."

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Slaves (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639226)

What is the purpose of an attendance system? To make sure someone is getting to work on time and not leaving before quitting time?

Sometimes people say that government employees should have greater scrutiny due to their being paid by the taxpayers, but I'm uncomfortable turning them into slaves.

Re:Slaves (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639276)

Attendance systems are in place in private business too, so what is the difference?

Re:Slaves (1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639288)

Voluntary servitude in a private business is none of my business.

In a public service role, I'd rather not see my tax dollars directly supporting such a system.

Re:Slaves (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639390)

This role is voluntary also, if those people don't like it they can enter the private workforce.

Re:Slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639622)

You idiot, he's talking about paying for the implementation of such a system, not his own personal use of it.

When a corporation wastes money like this, it doesn't come directly out of his pocket.

When a government wastes money like this, it does come directly from his pocket.

See the difference?

Re:Slaves (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639470)

Pubic service is voluntary. It happens by directly applying for a position, appointment, or being elected.

Last i heard no one was forced into working for the government ( well, forced taxation and convicted prisoners not withstanding :) )

Re:Slaves (2, Insightful)

moonbender (547943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639676)

You may have parsed that wrong. He says voluntary servitude in a private business is not his concern. Voluntary servitude in a public office, OTOH, is his concern since it is a public affair. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, just clearing up the difference. I assume involuntary servitude in either situation would concern him.

Re:Slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639294)

Paper and pencil would be cheaper.
Whatever cost-benefit mumbo jumbo and risk-management, personal responsibility for pulling the pin on this one is overdue.
Remains to be seen if this one beats the British NHS dudaster.

Re:Slaves (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639458)

What is the purpose of an attendance system? To make sure someone is getting to work on time and not leaving before quitting time?

Sometimes people say that government employees should have greater scrutiny due to their being paid by the taxpayers, but I'm uncomfortable turning them into slaves.

I'd bet that if they didn't keep track of anyone's time that many people (maybe even you) would be complaining that people are showing up for work late, leaving early and generally 'working the system'. And they'd be right.

Governments (including NYC) are beholden to their citizens - and this includes making sure that people are showing up for their government jobs. They may not do a very good job at it (serving their c8itizens and/or doing their government jobs) but they damn well better try.

Re:Slaves (3, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639648)

I work at a sizable county government in California, and while our timekeeping systems aren't nearly as fancy as to require millions of dollars of investment, they do have to provide an accounting of what people work on. A good portion of the staff are able to have one- or two-line timesheets, as the work they do comes out of one bucket. Others, like me, may have anywhere from 10 to 30 lines a week as we work on different projects or tickets and have to bill the time appropriately.

However, neither of the two systems (one for employees, one for contractors) tracks when people actually arrive and depart. There are mechanisms to enter that data, but it's done by the staff member, not by the badge-reading system. From a technical perspective, I could show up at 10, take a two-hour lunch, then leave at 2, and say that I arrived at 7am, worked my normal shift with a one-hour lunch, and went home at 5. It's only my work ethic (and to a much smaller extent the fact that I would get caught quickly by my boss) that keeps me from doing it.

Re:Slaves (4, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639544)

No, it's to track the hours they worked so they can be properly paid- the other part is just data that the system provides so that managers can know they're cheating on the system.

Since it's effectively little more than a fancy punch clock, I'd think that it'd not be THAT difficult to do. I'm amazed that they're pouring that much cash into a bottomless pit on this- and then doing more of it instead of pulling the plug and starting over.

Screw egg on face moments here- you're pouring $722 MILLION dollars into what is an overglorified punch clock system. If it's not working by now, it's not going to EVER work right and that's some serious good money after bad that could be put elsewhere.

Re:Slaves (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639612)

In 1995, I built a Time and Attendance system using Informix and Powerbuilder 5. I was the sole developer and didn't know Powerbuilder when I started. In less than 6 months, it was up and running in 16 divisions.

Sure, a city is more complicated, but this isn't rocket science.

Re:Slaves (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639720)

You didn't rake it 600K/year right? I suppose the consultants figured out early that if they actually built the timekeeping system the NYC would figure out exactly how much the consultants are overcharging the NYC ;).

Then again perhaps the NYC has put in lots of complicated (and potentially conflicting) requirements. My guess is you were the one deciding on most of the requirements with only a few coming from others.

Re:Slaves (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639782)

I wish I was getting $600K.

I don't care what the requirements are, a consultant working on a T&A system (Yeah baaaby!) is waay overpaid at $600k per year.

But, I guess more power to them. If they can convince some city idiot to pay them that much, good for them.

Re:Slaves (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639864)

Maybe I'm misreading you, but what I see you saying is, if you find a way to steal, steal with impunity for as long as you can.

Re:Slaves (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639916)

Ha!...it's not stealing if they give it to you.

SOP in NYC (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639932)

Since it's effectively little more than a fancy punch clock, I'd think that it'd not be THAT difficult to do. I'm amazed that they're pouring that much cash into a bottomless pit on this- and then doing more of it instead of pulling the plug and starting over.

It's NYC, the City of Graft. This is a city where "working the system" is SOP, where "in the old days" there where many Pisanos that had a "city job" they never went to. It still goes on today. This project is simply following the NYC way of doing things.

Re:Slaves | it works both ways yah know (2, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639572)

being able to prove that you were in fact clocked in and working from 8:55 to 16:05 on monday (and the other 4 days of the week within about 2 minutes) does real wonders for GETTING PAID FOR THOSE TIMES. or for the cases where you actually left on thursday at 20:00 because something went BANG and you had to handle it.

Can You Say ... (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639232)

... oversight is on vacation? What does a project have to do to get sh!t canned? I could have not delivered a timekeeping and payroll system for 1/2 that!

Re:Can You Say ... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639558)

Vacation? I'd say oversight is off retired on this one. That's a lot of money to be putting into a system and not having delivered it. I'd love to have the role of these consultants- that's a LOT of cash to be getting per year to have delivered nothing on with only apparently minimal expectations of having something to show for yourself in the future.

Re:Can You Say ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639862)

Vacation? I'd say oversight is off retired on this one.

More likely offshored.

Corruption (2, Insightful)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639800)

Is it just me or do Americans seem to have some kind of blind spot when it comes to government corruption? In any other country, this would've immediately been called for what it is, plain old corruption, and would be a scandal. It is obvious what is happening here.

Re:Corruption (5, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639926)

This isn't government corruption. It's private enterprise. The idea is that government is fundamentally incompetent. Anything done by a government will not work. So government can't hire employees to work on software projects. Instead, it hires private enterprise to do it. Private enterprise is efficient and effective, and the result is savings.

This way of thinking has brought us multi-billion-dollar FAA upgrades that didn't work, new IRS d-bases that failed utterly, and created a whole industry of government contractors whose sole function in life is to transfer tax money from your pocket to theirs. The sad fact is that five programmers at Lawrence Livermore Labs could have gotten this done in a year for $500k. The outsourcing model doesn't work for us. Tragically, it *does* work for the people to whom the money flows, and so they lobby for it, and we get government contractors instead of government employees doing these projects.

Re:Corruption (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639928)

Yea, you're seeing it wrong, and seeing it right at the same time. Many of us do hate corruption and have a problem with things like this. However, there are also people who accepted the irresponsible and immoral "greed is good" philosophy. Greed now so rules their lives that they see evidence of greed in society as validation of their philosophy rather than recognizing that what is going on is actually costing them money and harming their own society.

Greed has so blinded them that they become like dogs crapping in their own back yards.

Hm (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639236)

Is New York City going to follow Washington's lead and tax itself 10% for this custom software? :D

Wait. How would that work?

Should Have Called Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639240)

We would have done it for half that!

Deadlines (2, Funny)

xerent_sweden (1010825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639244)

I guess they need some kind of system to keep track of their timetables and salaries!

Re:Deadlines (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639738)

Yeah, I can not deliver that for a mere $200k/year, within, say 15 years? Anyone care to overbid me? That is how a contract like this works, isn't it?

Cheaper if everybody steals an hour a day (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639248)

Isn't it?

$500k per year? (1)

nomso (591062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639252)

Where do I apply?

Hire more developers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639256)

at least NYC will get an extra 5k tax break per person...

are they hiring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639260)

i'm cheap. $200k would be sufficient.

Re:are they hiring? (-1, Troll)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639402)

Sack the parasites. I would do it for $50K and I bet you $50Kthat | could learn enough to do a better job than these vermin. I have worked on a JD Edwards One World ERP set-up and I can tell you for nothing that its nothing special. These people are just in the special position of being able to blackmail you puny mortals because you are afraid of being sued. Come to think of it, you deserve to pay over the odds because politicians are ignorant wimps and the public should pay higher taxes for voting in useless ignorant people who can walk, talk, chew gum, screw the tax payer, and know nothing about how the world works. On second thoughts I'm rather glad that these people who know something have screwed the maximum penalty out of our Disneyland elected representatives. Who said democracy was a good thing anyway. Enjoy your Fox news morons.

Government Project Cost Overruns? (3, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639266)

Perish the thought.

My little sister is currently reviewing proposals for a landfill for her Arizona suburb. All the estimates say it will last 50 years. My father (a civil engineer) told her to ask this question:

"What was your estimate on the last landfill's lifetime, and how long did it actually last?"

I have a friend who was a teacher in California for a year. She was laid off and promptly given 2/3rds her previous salary in unemployment benefits. Pretty good for keeping the same employer and just not working anymore. If I tried that it would result in a 100% pay cut.

Governments waste money. Your local government does it. Your state government. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head (/sarcasm) but I'm pretty sure the federal government does it, too.

And yet many of the same people who will cry foul over this will be first in line telling the government it is morally obligated to provide X social program or prop up Y industry "for the good of the country." Surely that isn't a colossal waste, won't go to lining the pockets of consultants, won't get dragged down by graft, won't go over budget estimations, et cetera.

Surely.

Not a waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639356)

Governments waste money.

It's not a waste if you're in the business of government. As long as the money passes through your hands, you win. It doesn't matter whether the project succeeds or fails -- what matters is that the money passes through your hands, giving you the chance to exploit it for personal gain.

I guarantee the overpaid consultants aren't the only ones banking big time on this project. In the business of government, spending is always good for the bottom line. After all, they're not spending their own money.

Re:Not a waste (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639400)

Please don't blame this on "government" and just blame it on how people operate here in general, as I assure you it is :P

Re:Not a waste (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639528)

Government provides a gold-plated, twelve lane highway for this sort of exploitation. Sure I imagine most people would operate this way, if they could. The point is that opportunity is not always there. Government is one very big way to get the opportunity.

Re:Not a waste (1)

camg188 (932324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639896)

I blame the paradigm of "government".
No competition. No alternative sources for their services.
Private companies increase business by selling more goods or services, so they have incentive to provide better value.
Government bureaucracies increase their business by creating more bureaucracy. They have no incentive to provide better value. Doing that could even be detrimental to them.
Like you said, it's how people operate in general, so without the pressure to be profitable, government will always be more inefficient and wasteful than private companies.

If Governments Didn't Waste Money, (0, Troll)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639580)

If Governments Didn't Waste Money, where would all the lucrative contracts that keep Wall Streeters and Fortune 500 corporations in fat City?

Its not as if a rag-tag army of teabaggers is going to step in and bring in the bacon from now on. That would be a recipe for total economic collapse in GDP. Besides their share of kickbacks to a Bloomberg reelection would be minuscule anyway nor would their software make coffee for the mayor every morning.

However, it does leave one wondering what happened to that old technology "the punch clock". You wouldn't think it would cost 758 million dollars to upgrade it.

Re:If Governments Didn't Waste Money, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639726)

The punch clock was based on more than three decades of continuous research and development started in the late 1930s by Germany and continued by the USA through the late '60s. Since then we haven't done much work in this area, the original engineers are all retired or dead, and the original documentation is almost impossible to comprehend without the internal knowledge of the people who worked on it. Although we could achieve a punch clock in 1969, the technology and the know-how just doesn't exist any more.

Sorry, I'm thinking of the moon landing. I don't know how a new punch clock costs three quarters of a billion dollars either.

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (-1, Flamebait)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639452)

I have a friend who was a teacher in California for a year.

Teacher unions are evil. End of story.

And yet many of the same people who will cry foul over this will be first in line telling the government it is morally obligated to provide X social program or prop up Y industry "for the good of the country."

You do know what party controls New York, right?

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639760)

Teacher unions are evil. End of story.

Teachers will disagree. Strongly.

Apparently their interests and that of others may not align. Who knew? Who could think of such a thing?

And before you say "Well, if School Boards were free to act on their own, then it wouldn't be a problem because they'd educate the students and attract teachers..."

Yeah, Teachers like Unions and School Boards don't always know shit about teaching students either.

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639530)

Exactly. Government always wastes money. They should have hired a private contractor instead. It would have turned out much better that way.

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639640)

Oh? You mean like the military contractors (Blackwater)?

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639804)

No little man. Like the company this article is about. It's a joke. Every time the government screws up at something, the "free market solves everything" people claim that the government is inherently incapable of doing anything right, so they should just hand a smaller chunk of money to private industry and everything would be fine.

Well that was what happened here, and it didn't work. The "government sucks" people step right in without skipping a beat. The thought that private industry shares the blame apparently hasn't occured to many of the people posting today.

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639600)

So let me get this straight - you think only governments waste money? What about the billions of dollars in bonuses and severance pay that are given to CEOs and other top level business executives who utterly screw their companies (and their stockholders, and their customers)? How is that not waste on a far larger scale?

No business executive deserves to earn millions of dollars. Use all that money to pay your damn front-line employees and I bet the economy will actually get a lot better very quickly.

Yeah, because private industry pays sensible salar (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639666)

You are trolling but you are not aware of it because you got a blind spot. Remember those banks that collapsed and took the whole economy with them? Private industry and filled with excessive salaries and people who get golden parachutes when they are "let go".

About the only way to fix this is to cut management down. But what manager is going to say, "we don't need all these managers". I seen these kind of projects, they are pretty common. And it is always a case of management going out of control. You could produce a system like this with half a dozen skilled people. But in reality what you get is hundreds, and most of them having nothing to do with the system at all anymore.

And that happens everywhere. Just why do you think MS employs so many people, and for what? If you took a shotgun and shot everyone with a management title at MS, it would affect their productivity at all. In fact, I am willing to bet it goes up. But nobody is going to do that, because the job you might cut, is your own.

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (2, Insightful)

superscalar (229943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639734)

Of course this is disgraceful, but it's by no means limited to government - there's plenty of waste in private industry, we just don't hear about it as much. I have a friend who recently worked as a consultant for one of the big health insurers in California. She talked about a multi-hundred-million-dollar development project on a new IT system that they scrapped before implementing. You'd think someone could have pulled the plug before the project got into 9 figures.

Of course, from a cost standpoint, healthcare is a disaster here in the US (I think we spend about 2x as much per-person as the next highest country, and I suspect it will only get worse under the new reforms). Having relatives who work in healthcare, and seeing the mess that's resulted from multiple, independent providers who don't share data efficiently (i.e. hospitals, doctors and clinics) and multiple, independent insurance monopolies that negotiate separately with each provider, I can't imagine a public healthcare system wouldn't be better than what we have. Of course, half the country seems to think having the government involved in healthcare is 'evil socialism'... at least until they hit 65 and go on Medicare, at which point most of them seem to like it.

When I see how the US reacts to complex debates like this it's hard to believe we've been as economically and militarily successful as we have.

- ss

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639750)

"What was your estimate on the last landfill's lifetime, and how long did it actually last?"

I can predict the answer to that question: "50 years, and it's still around." How many of these companies are older than 50 years do you think?

I have a friend who was a teacher in California for a year. She was laid off and promptly given 2/3rds her previous salary in unemployment benefits. Pretty good for keeping the same employer and just not working anymore. If I tried that it would result in a 100% pay cut.

Do you not qualify for unemployment benefits? Or are you placing some weird distinction on the fact that the unemployment benefits are also paid by the state so somehow that means she's "keeping the same employer"?

This is a *private* sector project (5, Insightful)

ph1ll (587130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639768)

I read TFA and saw that a private company called "Science Applications International Corp." was running the project.

So, why is that people are blaming the government when it is the private sector that is wasting all this money? Sure, it's tax-payers' money but aren't we constantly told by various private sector financed think tanks that this public work is best outsourced to the private sector? Well, this is what happens, folks.

And if you think the private sector is any better, you're living in a fantasy land. It's just that they are less liable to scrutiny. When corruption happens in private organizations, it gets brushed under the carpet. Why? Because it looks not only bad for the culprit (obviously) but also the guy who employed him - no matter that he had nothing to do with the scam. Everybody stay silent and nobody gets hurt, right?

I've seen this soooo many times in the private sector - outsourced procurement agencies that charge $1000 for a $500 desktop, outsourced projects that were awarded to a consultancy that was (by shocking coincidence) run by the brother of the guy on the committee overseeing the outsourcing etc etc. In all these cases, it's hard to prove that actual fraud took place (eg, "well, we really did think this was the best offer when you consider all the factors").

And nobody in a private organization is ever, ever going to be prosecuted for these scams. Why would they? Who wants to pursue such cases? The shareholders don't care about such small corruption even if they got to hear of it. The media are not interested (a private company can spend its money as it sees fit). And an employee is only going to ruin his career.

Re:This is a *private* sector project (4, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639892)

Without getting into the whole private/government bullshit debate, in this case it's because the government keeps paying them the money. If they discovered that the company they hired is useless the first year, they should've dropped them (or the whole project) and found somebody else, and not kept pouring money down the drain. But they kept doing just that, so that's their problem right there.

Re:This is a *private* sector project (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639914)

SAIC? No wonder things are going badly on a grand scale...

Those guys are masters of working the government outsourcing gravy train. At least those 500k a year developers who've failed to produce anything aren't members of a union, so it must be efficient, right?

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639770)

I have a friend who was a teacher in California for a year. She was laid off and promptly given 2/3rds her previous salary in unemployment benefits. Pretty good for keeping the same employer and just not working anymore. If I tried that it would result in a 100% pay cut.

If you tried it you'd be quitting, not laid off. Try to understand the difference.

Humans, not Government (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639816)

Any place where an "overly greedy" human can make an extra buck at someone else's expense, they will. Yes, people should be paid for their work. When they charge so much that the customers can't put food on the table, there's a problem. Or, if dragging something out increases profit, some humans will do this. It'd be nice if we could switch to where profit was based on the task being completed, not the amount of effort that went into the task. Take healthcare. They profit off of treatment. Unethical healthcare companies could choose to not develop better/cheaper treatments, simply because they would lose profit. I'd love to see a system where they only get paid if the treatment works. (Obviously, this is difficult where the current treatments don't always work: cancer, AIDS, etc...)

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639930)

Aaand it's a good time to mention that government employees make 30% more than non-government employees, [wsj.com] and that doesn't include benefits (if you want to get around the paywall, check out this link [google.com] ). This shows that in New York at least, the pay isn't spread around equally, some people are getting paid far more than their private-sector counterparts, so presumably others are getting paid less.

The article mentions that in most states with deficits, if pay were more reasonable, it would easily close the deficit in most states that have them.

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639936)

You're absolutely right. Corporate welfare is evil. We should stop it. Which party, and which candidates, advocate stopping it? Do you for them, or for their opponents?

Re:Government Project Cost Overruns? (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639952)

do you vote for them, I meant to say. Sigh.

Cool.. (2, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639270)

Where do i sign up?

Re:Cool.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639426)

Where do i sign up?

Lexington ave, NYC, Bloomberg Tower. It's well known that Bloomberg pays well above market rates to programmers working on his Terminal in an attempt to "buy quality".

Re:Cool.. (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639454)

Well, imagining being one of those consultants, I would make sure this project would never finish! Obviously the longer it takes the more you make off of it. This is a recipe for disaster - and internal sabotage.

Re:Cool.. (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639656)

Right, as long as there are no penalties for overruns and scope creep, there is really no incentive to complete a job on time and within budget. ( this applies to both sides of a contract as there is plenty of blame to spread around )

Not only do you make "more money off it" due to the length of the project, but you don't have to worry about finding your next gig.

Re:Cool.. (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639480)

Where do i sign up?

I'm guessing New York.

CityTime Forever (5, Funny)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639272)

Coming Soon

We need more of these articles (2, Insightful)

VernorVinge (1420843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639334)

This defense contractor SAIC is just a symptom of the special interests that are running this country. Multiple it by 1,000,000 and you understand why our country is going bankrupt. The nature of our DOE, NASA, and DOD budgets allow for this type of uncontrolled spending. People need to take charge of elections and actively support smaller and more responsive government.

Re:We need more of these articles (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639372)

This has nothing to do with "smaller" government and everything to do with exactly what you expect to be doing when you enter the working world as one of the "masses". "Business Management" people that don't have any relevant or useful skills at all that enter the workforce.

Re:We need more of these articles (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639564)

This has nothing to do with "smaller" government and everything to do with exactly what you expect to be doing when you enter the working world as one of the "masses". "Business Management" people that don't have any relevant or useful skills at all that enter the workforce.

Yes, I too expect to get a $500k per year contracting gig working but not working on a huge government project. Yes, it's all about the expectations, not who is actually squandering the money and how.

Re:We need more of these articles (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639624)

Hm... If only you could get more than the SF or Tech Geek crowd riled up in a manner where we could get people to be that interested in fixing things by way of elections to do it. Right now, we've got the government we so richly deserve right at the moment because of the disinterest, etc.

Cringely says: (1)

methano (519830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639336)

I didn't RTFA, but according to Bob Cringely, this is basically IBM's current business model. Looks like it may be sustainable.

Problem = Managers (4, Insightful)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639352)

If you RTFA, the people that are getting the highest salaries are "Project Managers". Generally these types of people don't know their ass from a hole in the ground and don't actually contribute to doing any work because they have no idea what it is they're doing. And these people are likely the reason the project isn't actually getting done. In fact, the people actually doing the grunt work on the project are likely making 10% of the stated figures.

This sort of thing happens in many, many businesses. The difference is that many businesses aren't required to report those figures and even then they are under far less scrutiny. I assure you this is about par course for American business in general both public and private.

There are better ways to do things, but until we vastly change the corporate culture that everyone is used to operating under we aren't going to see more efficiencies. The reality is that it's not the "government" wasting money here because this is what everyone that goes into these projects expects to be doing. And this is generally something that scales with said project; so cheaper projects get cheaper prices on management but it is still disproportionately higher than those that are doing the actual work.

Re:Problem = Managers (2, Insightful)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639424)

I'm also going to play a bit of a devil's advocate here. If you were the project manager in charge of this project, and you had no relevant actual skill to doing anything productive, would you not milk it for what it's worth also?

If you can milk over $500,000/year from a business (government is a form of business) over the course of a decade without anyone crying foul about it, would you not do it? The same could be said about $100,000/year. You end up with a stable job doing practically nothing and getting a ton of money for it, of course you're going to make it last because you fear reentering the hiring force and having to compete against people who actually have skills going for them.

Re:Problem = Managers (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639592)

If you can milk over $500,000/year from a business (government is a form of business) over the course of a decade without anyone crying foul about it, would you not do it?

Of course I would. The point is, I'd be bloody surprised if I got away with it for more than two weeks.

Not so much caveat emptor as culpa emptoris.

Re:Problem = Managers (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639762)

As long as you're a smooth talker and look good, you can get away with a lot of things.

Re:Problem = Managers (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639502)

This sort of thing happens in many, many businesses. The difference is that many businesses aren't required to report those figures and even then they are under far less scrutiny. I assure you this is about par course for American business in general both public and private.

Another "but business does it too" remark. There's a lot more difference than merely who business has to report to. Business isn't required by government to report these figures, but they are required by their Board of Directors to report whatever data the Board of Directors wants. Now maybe the BoD is too busy yacht racing or whatever to do their job. That is a problem of the owners of the business. Ultimately, the owners are the ones who lose out when a business gets out of control like this. That's how accountability works in the business world.

There are better ways to do things, but until we vastly change the corporate culture that everyone is used to operating under we aren't going to see more efficiencies. The reality is that it's not the "government" wasting money here because this is what everyone that goes into these projects expects to be doing. And this is generally something that scales with said project; so cheaper projects get cheaper prices on management but it is still disproportionately higher than those that are doing the actual work.

Except that it is New York City, a government, that is squandering public funds on this project. And it's not corporate culture that is the problem, but lack of accountability. This magically holds for government projects like the one of this story too.

Re:Problem = Managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639654)

Try this analogy: In a government-funded project the owner is actually the people and the government plays the role of the BoD. Hence if the BoD doesn't do it's job right it gets fired, i.e. voted out of office. The mechanics are the same in private and in public projects.

Re:Problem = Managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639704)

Another "but business does it too" remark. There's a lot more difference than merely who business has to report to. Business isn't required by government to report these figures, but they are required by their Board of Directors to report whatever data the Board of Directors wants. Now maybe the BoD is too busy yacht racing or whatever to do their job. That is a problem of the owners of the business. Ultimately, the owners are the ones who lose out when a business gets out of control like this. That's how accountability works in the business world.

Guess who the board of directors are for the government.

Re:Problem = Managers (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639780)

> Guess who the board of directors are for the government.

Looks like most of them don't even know they are the "board of directors".

And they keep voting for the same two "management teams" who take turns to screw the shareholders, so why should the management teams change their ways? It's working really well for them.

Similarly, why should the consultants change either? They're being rewarded tremendously for their behaviour.

Re:Problem = Managers (2, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639610)

Oh, it's government wasting the money. The problem lies within the inability to pull the plug when it's clear it's not coming together. Within that culture, there's an environment that encourages this sort of thinking you ascribe to the businesses. Why should they do any different. They can half-ass their way through things and maybe deliver a lurching horror, maybe deliver nothing- and still keep getting paid for it for the longest time.

In the end, the business won, the government people got to pour a bunch of money down a bottomless pit, and we, the populace and taxpayers, LOST. There's a threshold that should be hit much earlier on, one of "this is not working, perhaps we need to re-think this or stop it," that we're just not seeing with this stuff. That, folks, is what I see needing to change. Once you have that, the rest kind of falls into place- the businesses quit doing this stuff, quit placing the incompetent in important management positions, etc. Because they can't afford to any more.

Re:Problem = Managers (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639660)

No, I think the project is a good idea--even if the actual cost of the project was $100,000,000 to produce. But you have to factor in that actual "cost" of the project. You see big numbers and you're like "wow that's such a waste of taxpayer funds!", but then if you look at the multi-year benefit of the project you go "hmm, maybe it isn't."

The problem is very clearly the people involved in the project, and I don't necessarily mean the government employees either (though they are partially to blame), but I blame the consulting companies. All it takes is someone on top to realize something needs to be up, but again--being hands off to these sorts of things is something you learn very early on whether public or private. It's not a battle they consider worth fighting, because ultimately, it's not their battle.

In this case, since it's a government, the battle lies in the hands of the people and the elected officials. If you don't like how so much money is being spent on the project, or rather how it's being spent, then people in those areas should voice their concerns to their elected officials, and if those officials don't do anything, then vote them out and choose someone else.

Ultimately in this case, it is the taxpayer's responsibility (in that local area) to put a stop to it. And because of that, the managers that are making significantly more than they're actually worth they will simply milk it until the funding is done.

Re:Problem = Managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639778)

"If you RTFA, the people that are getting the highest salaries are "Project Managers"."

Judging from the quality of their management, they should all be fired and the money used to hire more coders and 1/10th as many managers.

How hard can it be (3, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639388)

How hard can it be to program a computerized timekeeping and payroll system.

230 highly paid people and it has been underdevelopment for over a decade?
1 person should of been able to get it done in a decade.

Re:How hard can it be (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639542)

well lets see

1 tax and labor laws: what time gets paid for how much and how do you handle "off hours" work and various grades of over time/hazard pay/rush|time critical work

2 multisite/multi "cost center" issues

3 temporary/contract work

4 "Family matters"

5 International Concerns some bits of NYC are considered "foreign ground" so the laws of that Nation need to be dealt with

6 type and format for the ~8,000 different forms all of this will need

Re:How hard can it be (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639956)

even at that I'm wondering if 2 or 3 very competent coder and a handful of competent lawyers/accountants could get that done in a fraction of the time.
Projects get tied up in cruft but by that point the guys in charge are afraid to just turn around and say "the code is crap, we made mistakes early on and we're never going to get this done. the only way is to start again and do it right." because that's admitting failure.

Re:How hard can it be (5, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639576)

Or buy one of the many solutions already available....for about the cost of 1 developer for 1 year.

who wrote the software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639398)

"City Council to probe CityTime [nydailynews.com] ; timekeeping and payroll system costing city $700M"

"The IT Employee Confidence Index increased 0.6 points to 50.8 in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to a recent survey commissioned by Technisource®, the technology placement division of Spherion Corporation [whyitnow.org] "

"As a technology executive, you are constantly expected to do more with less. Technisource offers specialized IT consulting and outsourcing solutions through The Provali Group [technisource.com] ®, a division of Technisource launched in March of 2009"

Important question... (1)

mr exploiter (1452969) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639408)

how do I get a job in there?

They should have hired.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639410)

2300 high lever bureaucrats @40k/year or,
4600 low level bureaucrats @20k/year or,
9200 Mexicans @10k/year or,
23000 interns @4k/year or,
Give everyone a bonus for working late till 5 am.

Two for the half the price of one (2, Insightful)

bradbury (33372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639412)

Hell, I've got 15+ years of experience with computers and some big name corporations (e.g. Time Inc & Oracle) in my resume. I'd be willing to do the job of two of the consultants for half as much.

The real question here is *who* is responsible for the project and is employing these people (who clearly seem to have no interest in getting the job done)? For example, if two or three individuals can rewrite a relatively robust DBMS (Oracle) in less than 2 years (circa 1983-84, the Oracle Version 3-->4 rewrite) having this many people not getting the job done in a decade screams to me of incompetence.

Consulting (2, Insightful)

McGruber (1417641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639492)

Consulting: When you're not part of the solution, there is good money in prolonging the problem.

isn't fraud a crime in NYNY? (1)

frnic (98517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639606)

The people charging these rates and not delivering and the people hiring them and paying them both should be in jail for fraud. That system can not possibly take that long or cost that must to develop.

Makes sense... (1)

VTEX (916800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639642)

Now I understand why with almost 8 million people in the city, with some of the highest taxes in the country, the reason NYC constantly has no money and has to cut critical services all the time.

Seriously, NYC has some major problems when it comes to infrastructure costs and planning. Just take a look at the MTA countdown clocks and the hundreds of millions they pour into it with absolutely no results, but they can't keep critical bus and subway lines. The WTC is still nothing but a giant hole. The Fulton Street Transit Center is a disaster. Hell, the Second Avenue Subway line dates back to 1929!

*sigh*

the scam of city government continues (2, Insightful)

darjen (879890) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639652)

the sad thing is that the taxpayers put up with it. and many even defend it.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639670)

My company has 3 developers working at about 60k, and we have built systems that do a hell of a lot more then this software. Wow what a freaking scan. They are just continuing to milk the system.

Saving Money (2, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639698)

They are saving money, because any off-the-shelf time-tracking software would cost much more than $722 million. Oh, wait ...

Lack of Competition... (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639736)

Makes for wasteful governments. I am sure IBM or EDS could have quoted a system to take care of employee based on existing code and systems they had refined over decades.

That is why they should do the least and let private businesses compete for tasks.

It is sad that politicians and some in the public think government is THE answer.

Re:Lack of Competition... (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639946)

Did you RTFA? They did outsource the project to an established contractor, SAIC. This is what happened.

SAIC vs. contractor rates (1)

aclarke (307017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639840)

First, I want to make it clear that I think these rates are ridiculous and I absolutely do not support them. However...

The rates quoted are the rates SAIC is charging. They are NOT the rates the contractors are paid. The article is very misleading on this point and I'm surprised that this hasn't been picked up on here.

If SAIC charges their client $600k per year for a consultant, SAIC is probably paying that employee, say, $140k. It's extremely disingenuous to state that these contractors themselves are making this type of salary. It is their employer who is billing this kind of money for their employees' time.

I'm sure there's a lot of blame to go around here, but from reading the article the only people I can say are DEFINITELY to blame are the ones at the government who approved SAIC's budget.

Inaccurate story (2, Interesting)

BradMajors (995624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639856)

The story is inaccurate. The City is not employing these persons and is not paying these persons a salary or any other type of compensation.

The City has hired a company to perform the work and this other company is paying these persons some type of compensation. These persons will never see anything close to the stated "salaries".

The rates being charged are not out of line with rates being charged elsewhere.

Chasing Changing Specs? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639898)

It sounds like someone might be constantly changing the specifications. I'm sure like all things political in New York (see rebilding WTC), the contract likely requires EVERYONE who touches the payroll to have a say in how it works. That, along with different trade unions and their contracts' idiosyncrasies, work/shift/OT rules, and I could see how it can become a mess.

I'm paid hourly, and my company uses SAP for HR management. The idea is that all I should have to do is put my hours and on-call time in and the system should be able to figure out the rest. As it turns out, there's a drop down that has about 30 different line items to pick from. Each one will have an influence in my paycheck. Choose the wrong one and it can be a big problem. Then there's at least 2 levels of approval before my time is submitted to get a check cut. Every time I enter time, it has to be broken out by line item. In my case, it is usually 7:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00 since I have to indicate the lunch hour, except when I don't get a lunch. So I have at least 2 lines per day, but there's also on call, call-out, company holiday (which, if I'm on call, has to be broken out in 4 hours because for some strange reason just putting in 8 hours of holiday pay makes the system reject the on call pay). If I'm on vacation is it for medical reasons? Are those medical reasons eligible for FMLA rules? Have I used up my FLMA time?

We live with the bizarre nature of the system because someone, somewhere decided it was the best way to go, and if we want to get paid we'd better do what it says. At least once a month I enter something the wrong way and it gets rejected (usually when I come in at 23:00 doing night work... the system doesn't like crossing midnight for some reason). If you have a situation where everyone involved has a say in the matter, there's no way people would put up with this stuff. And according to the article, they wanted to use biometric systems to make it work. It sounds like someone wanted to be able to have a fingerprint scanner at the front door and employees would get scanned when they came in, scan when they leave and the system can figure out the rest. But there's a problem with that model as pointed out above. Is my scan a call-out when I'm on call or a call-out when I'm not? Straight overtime or call out time? What if I get called in early but continue working (when does call-out pay end and normal day begin)? That may affect my paycheck, depending on the work rules, so it darn well better get it right or there's going to be hell to pay.

And then there's the "does it have to have a blue background" problem, and real or perceived UI issues, and people who generally hate change.

Or maybe the contractor is just incompetent.

that's the fee to the contractor, not the salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31639924)

Hey folks, it's not as bad as all that (although it *is* pretty extreme). The $600K is what SAIC is billing NYC. That's probably 3x what the actual worker gets, if not more. The $600K includes benefits, rent, electricity, computer rental, office support, management, etc. And NYC *is* an expensive city to buy all that stuff in.

Practically, speaking, this is a REALLY complex job. I'll bet NYC has tens of thousands of different job categories, each with its own idiosyncratic, poorly documented rules, not to mention rafts of collective bargaining agreements that have varying tiers and seniority grades, and probably different sick time/vacation/holiday schedules, not to mention weird shift differentials.

ANd, I'll bet it has to provide interfaces to dozens, if not hundreds, of different departmental payroll systems, because each agency/department has said "I'm not going to change OUR system"

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