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Four IT Consultants Charged With $80M NYC Rip-Off

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the well-they're-only-tax-dollars dept.

Crime 126

theodp writes "It's I-told-you-so time for Slashdot commenter frnic, who smelled a crime last March after reading that New York City had dropped $722 million on its still-under-development CityTime Attendance System. Nine months later, US Attorney Preet Bharara charged 'four consultants to the New York City Office of Payroll Administration ... for operating a fraudulent scheme that led to the misappropriation of more than $80 million in New York City funds allocated for an information technology project known as "CityTime."' Three of the four consultants were also charged — along with a consultant's wife and mother — with using a network of friends-and-family shell corporations to launder the proceeds of the fraud. Dept. of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn called it a shame that 'supposed experts hired and paid well to protect the city's interests were exposed as the fox guarding the hen house.'"

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126 comments

Old news for nerds (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725878)

Um, they were charged two weeks ago. It has been all over the local news and even in the ny times back then.

You guys posted this now like it just took place? The timeliness of this site has really gone downhill even with tech news.

Re:Old news for nerds (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725904)

Cowboy Neal is gone right now, please leave a message and Chuck Norris will kick the crap out of you. *beep*

Re:Old news for nerds (4, Funny)

russlar (1122455) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726022)

It's old news that slashdot posts old news.

Re:Old news for nerds (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727834)

It's old news that slashdot posts old news.

You must have been away for a while. It *was* old news that slashdot post old news, the new news is that slashdot reserves first view of the old news for subscribers and the old old news which is no longer news gets posted on hackaday, until its old hackaday news is .... oh wait, I think I see another problem, or maybe I'm just going to have to reconsider string theory

Re:Old news for nerds (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727462)

To be fair, it may be "old news" for some, but not for me. This is the first I have heard of it. So there!

I think if it is relevant and hasn't yet been mentioned on slashdot yet, then it should be posted regardless of its age. After all, age is relative as I am sure others will agree. I do not watch TV news too often and do not get or read the New York Times either. Perhaps it speaks badly for me that I rely on Slashdot as a news portal (though not exclusively, it is still one of many sources) but as things go, slashdot provides a "readers digest" version of the news from all over.

And hey! It wasn't a dupe as far as I can tell, so it's all good.

A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (5, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725886)

It's I-told-you-so time for Slashdot commenter frnic, who smelled a crime last March

So many accusations of criminal behavior are made on Slashdot daily that sooner or later one was bound to be right.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (4, Insightful)

DedHerring (259209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725934)

So many accusations of criminal behavior are made on Slashdot daily that sooner or later one was bound to be right.

True, but not the real question here: what is fmic's personal ratio of accusations:indictments? Better than most Slashdot commenters, I reckon. That's worth noting.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726068)

Survivorship/selection bias.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726090)

what is fmic's personal ratio of accusations:indictments?

Slashdot == Snitchdot? Who woulda thunk, since most Slashdotters were raising their hands in grade school classrooms and then hiding behind Mommy's leg when the mob grew tired of their bullshit?

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727868)

what is fmic's personal ratio of accusations:indictments?

Slashdot == Snitchdot? Who woulda thunk, since most Slashdotters were raising their hands in grade school classrooms and then hiding behind Mommy's leg when the mob grew tired of their bullshit?

The mob posts on slashdot now? Makes sense. Nice discussion you've got going there - be a shame if something, hic, happened to it.

...but it only scores 1 (2)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726588)

What's slightly depressing is that the comment scored only 1. Of course, this was probably because it was (rightly) modded down by the spelling and grammar police.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (1)

Lakitu (136170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726624)

So many accusations of criminal behavior are made on Slashdot daily that sooner or later one was bound to be right.

One of these days, the accusations of criminal behavior will join together to form the script of Hamlet.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727836)

Yeah, and then some never-been-laid-fucker will insist that Hamlet is actually an indictment of female manipulation of otherwise intact males. Has been tried before.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728410)

I swear there's something rotten in the state of Denmark. There must be crime going on.

Re:A stopped clock is still right twice a day. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727382)

1) Derek Lyons is a murderer!

2) Plant dead hooker in his home

3) Get frontpage /. article

But when Consulting companies do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725890)

... nobody goes to jail, the worse that could happen is the company pays a fine: Deloitte hit with $30M lawsuit over ERP project [computerworld.com]

Surely there must be a lesson learned from that.

Re:But when Consulting companies do it... (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725930)

But that was a corporation. Corporations and their boards never go to jail except in enron-style cases.

And that was a tort, not a crime. Learn the difference. It may save your life.

They're being charged with a crime, and it's 4 guys.

It's different this time. The people are small enough to be crushed without too much effort or revelations of $IMPORTANT_PEOPLE as part of the fraud.

--
BMO

Re:But when Consulting companies do it... (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726522)

its not different this time. your points are valid, but claiming this is 'new' is wrong,

they never would have been prosecuted at all if someone hadn't been determined to try to right all the wrongs again, and managed to find this group.

Re:But when Consulting companies do it... (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726726)

I didn't claim it's new. I said "this time." Don't put words in my mouth.

While you pulled me into an argument about semantics, you're wrong. Learn to read.

--
BMO

Re:But when Consulting companies do it... (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726966)

Deloitte hit with $30M lawsuit over ERP project [computerworld.com]

My favourite part from that link is :

"The 38-page complaint alleges that Deloitte was lying when the company promised to assemble a team of its "best resources" for the project and when it claimed to have "deep SAP and public sector knowledge" when marketing itself to the county."

How naive are the folks at Marin county? In my experience, every single consulting firm in existence lies about the team they're going to place on a project. I have seen some utterly staggering misrepresentations.

Re:But when Consulting companies do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727282)

As a former "consultant" for one of the big 3 or 4 consulting companies, I agree with you... reading the PDF file about the case brought back "learning on the job at the expense of the client" memories. And from what I can see this misrepresentation also goes on in the current outsourcing craze... I have absolutely no doubt.

Re:But when Consulting companies do it... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728190)

Bah, getting hit with a lawsuit tells nothing of the real story, I was part of a consulting project once where they at least considered it. My most vivid moment from that project was a fairly critical workshop I held, the topic was well announced, the entire core team of the customer was present and if they at any time needed assistance it was their task to call inn additional resources. At the first semi-hard question of the workshop their project lead said they didn't have the competence present to decide that now. I seriously just wanted to just abort the whole workshop right then and there, like seriously? wtf? There was almost ten people around the table and if you can't even decide this one, how the hell are we going to get anything done? Even get through the day? As expected essentially nothing got decided, extra meetings were scheduled, the project mostly stalled as they ran in circles and demanded extra workshops to explain things we've already explained but they still couldn't decide on and eventually the project was killed from upon high as it was way over budget.

Of course they wanted to nail us to the wall to recover some of that money but I think they just looked at the mass of documentation we had they had failed their end of the contract and decided to let it go. To make a car analogy consultants are a bit like taxi drivers, if you can't really make up your mind on where you're going we're happy to drive you around as long as the meter is running. You can't just at the end say "oh we started at A and ended at B, that's way too much for that distance" when in the beginning you just had a general direction and couldn't decide if we were at the right place or not and asked us to just drive around looking for it. If we're to do a good job, we need the requirements up front not one by one as we fail them. If you ask me to drive you to a good restaurant, telling me in front of the steakhouse that you wanted a sushi place (or vice versa) is too damn late. We know the tools we're implementing, but you're supposed to know the business you're in. Sometimes I really got them impression they wanted us to learn them how to do their job too...

Umm (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725896)

How does something "slip through the cracks" for 7 years?

A project that was $68 million total... instead was $100+ million (a year?!!)

If the city DIDN'T spend MORE-THAN-HALF-A-BILLION maybe they wouldn't be raising the fare on the subway/bus for the 3rd time in just a few years.

Here's a thought.. once a year look at projects and see if they were supposed to be done already. You can pay someone $1,000 a MINUTE to do this and still save money by finding another project like this.

Re:Umm (2)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725998)

Or just buy an already-existing time system like AutoTime or FieldGlass or OnTime or ..... No need to reinvent the wheel.

Re:Umm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727336)

How would that make you awesome?
Working for the city council is all about being awesome.
Do Awesome people buy off the shelf software? When was the last time you saw that in a Hollywood blockbuster?

Re:Umm (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727802)

I have a hard time imagining someone running for re-election on the basis of having upgraded the time system software.

Re:Umm (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726166)

How does something "slip through the cracks" for 7 years?

A project that was $68 million total... instead was $100+ million (a year?!!)

If the city DIDN'T spend MORE-THAN-HALF-A-BILLION maybe they wouldn't be raising the fare on the subway/bus for the 3rd time in just a few years.

Here's a thought.. once a year look at projects and see if they were supposed to be done already. You can pay someone $1,000 a MINUTE to do this and still save money by finding another project like this.

here is what i can tell you head over to pandora radio and make a station of old old music. folk songs sometimes explain things like that...

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34728998)

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman?

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34728260)

I did a Time and Attendance system in three months by myself, starting from scratch with a new technology (Powerbuilder). Deployed to 1000+ people in 16 divisions across the U.S in less than 6 months. It cost them $20,000 for time and another $20k for hardware and support.

Even if they delivered on time and on budget, they ripped off the city.

Life without parole (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725900)

If guilty they should get a Madoff sentence. The person in charge for the city should also go to jail for malfeasance.

Why stop there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726048)

You should go to jail for paying taxes to support them.

The problem with T&A in government... (3, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725908)

...is that everyone does it differently, and no one wants to conform to a uniform system. Why, you might ask? Because the current system is in place and, more importantly, people have learned how to game it.

I went through something like this years ago with a local government t&a project. There was a core group that understood it's value ( namely, IT and payroll ), but everyone else had been using tricks of the current, in place system ( which varied from dept to dept ) to get longer lunches, swap shifts or plain, flat out not work and get paid for it.

We never did get universal buy-in for the project, and it ended up dieing ( although, to be fair, the vendor didn't help things much ). Even in the best of times, T&A is a highly complex subject that almost no one understands. When you have people actively trying to undermine your efforts...well, you can imagine how much progress one might make.

( note: the depts that gave us the most headaches, btw, were fire and police. The "old boy" network had been in place so "billy bob" might take off a couple extra hours because he was the chief's friend. Needless to say, the new time keeping software didn't keep track of that "accurately", and people's feelings got hurt. )

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725974)

I went through something like this years ago with a local government t&a project.

Tits and ass are now a government project? Where do you live? I want to move there so I can help this project.

Oh yeah, and "it's" = "it is" while "its" is possessive, you functionally illiterate fuck. See if you can confuse "where" and "were" while you're at it, that's the latest trendy way to show that you can't handle your own native language.

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726034)

I don't understand why T&A is "complicated". It consists of four round globes, two front and two rear that men find irresistibly attractive (and thus procreation happens).

Oh okay. I'll be serious.
Back in my old hourly days, I was handed a card. I swiped the card through the reader when I walked in the door and swiped it again when I walked out. If I worked in a different department I would "badge out", type in the new department number, and then badge in again. That seems like a very simple method to me, and ensures nobody can cheat.
.

>>>The problem with T&A in government...

There is no problem. Interns in government are hot. See? (holds up Girls of DC issue)

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727184)

>>>The problem with T&A in government...

There is no problem. Interns in government are hot. See? (holds up Girls of DC issue)

When did Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Cat Woman, et al start working as interns? And why don't I have a Girls of DC issue?
[GrouchoMarx](Not that I don't have some issues)[/GrouchoMarx]

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726038)

Tits and ass in government? I truly did not know.

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726864)

LADWP uses Seibel for everything, including T&A... There are scalable solutions available, and government really isn't anywhere near as complex as even the average retailer. Walmart has an equivalent size workforce (if not larger) look at their systems, and implement their strategy (take something off the shelf, then hire internal employees to make it work.) But since most government organizations have a "unionize or quit" policy, you're fucked in getting quality people to hire, or stick around once they are subjected to union policy. You can't pay them based on doing good work you have to pay everyone the average wage and give incremental increases based on tenure. And in advance of the know nothing union trolls, I don't give a shit what you think, I've worked for a government employee union, that is what it means.

Overloaded acryonym needs explaining (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727498)

What does T&A mean in this context? All I can really get from your post is payroll. I'm betting it is not the traditional English use as in "tits and arse" that would keep it out of any serious use in Britain, Australia, Canada etc.

Re:Overloaded acryonym needs explaining (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728482)

"Time and Attendance" at a guess. Like the punch cards that most civilised nations done away with decades ago, realising that workers who aren't micromanaged and monitored for every minute have higher productivity.

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727626)

We never did get universal buy-in for the project, and it ended up dieing ( although, to be fair, the vendor didn't help things much ).

You had a stupid vendor then. Smart vendors are just as much in on how difficult the switch-over process in government is. What it usually means is that the entry ticket is cheap (not the first shot is free, but close) but everything after that, especially things they didn't demand a quote for in the RFQ is big bucks. Nothing is impossible in IT - though sometimes a vendor will spectacularly fail to deliver - it's just a matter of how much it'll cost. Inevitably almost all business start with "use standard" and end with "standard isn't good enough" in my experience.

Re:The problem with T&A in government... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727886)

Do you have any links to photos of this "T&A" project. I'm intrigued.

The problem with T&A with any client (5, Insightful)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727938)

...is that everyone does it differently, and no one wants to conform to a uniform system. Why, you might ask? Because the current system is in place and, more importantly, people have learned how to game it.

I went through something like this years ago with a local government t&a project. There was a core group that understood it's value ( namely, IT and payroll ), but everyone else had been using tricks of the current, in place system ( which varied from dept to dept ) to get longer lunches, swap shifts or plain, flat out not work and get paid for it.

We never did get universal buy-in for the project, and it ended up dieing ( although, to be fair, the vendor didn't help things much ). Even in the best of times, T&A is a highly complex subject that almost no one understands. When you have people actively trying to undermine your efforts...well, you can imagine how much progress one might make.

( note: the depts that gave us the most headaches, btw, were fire and police. The "old boy" network had been in place so "billy bob" might take off a couple extra hours because he was the chief's friend. Needless to say, the new time keeping software didn't keep track of that "accurately", and people's feelings got hurt. )

The second most important single document in project management - the stakeholders list.

The most misunderstood term in project management - stakeholder.

Stakeholder == anyone who might possibly want to stab you with a pointy stick.

Most important document - a list of motivations and pain points of the stakeholders. Third most important - payment terms. Fourth - project delivery specifications.

Feel free to disagree, and, good luck.

;-p

Bad Analogy (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725938)

"Jill Hearn -- whose office uncovered the massive scam -- called it a shame that 'supposed experts hired and paid well to protect the city's interests were exposed as the fox guarding the hen house.'"

More like the fox consulting the guy guarding the hen house.

IT people shouldn't go to jail! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725942)

That's what Slashdotters thought about that dickbag in SF.

Re:IT people shouldn't go to jail! (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725962)

To be fare, he didn't rape San Francisco of $80 million. He simply highlighted their incompetence.

Re:IT people shouldn't go to jail! (1)

Stryker2 (258706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727556)

For most people in government, that is worse than stealing the $80 million.

WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (3, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725948)

"$80MM"

Is dollars millimeters a new unit?

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (3, Informative)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725988)

The symbol for millimetres is mm, not MM. MM would be "megamega". Dollars megamega is equally nonsensical, mind.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726008)

$mm? No. Neither is $MM, or $T.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726210)

Strong words from the aspiring-twelve-year-old-troll department!

M is pretty universal for thousand, MM is pretty universal for million.

The "M" stands for mole.

I bet this guy uses the CAPS LOCK a lot. For example, HEY LOOK NOW IM 120MM TALL!!!!
Where as, in the over 18 niche, the same height may be expressed as 120mm (and "I'm")

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726256)

No. M is pretty universal for million. k is pretty universal for thousand. "mol" stands for mole.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727374)

MM is commonly used for million. Just not in your circles. Different cliques use different jargon.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727726)

MM is pretty universal for million.

At best MM should stand for 2,000 as it is a highjacking of roman numerals that fails to accurately implement them.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (3, Informative)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726302)

"M" is the roman numeral for "1,000". In financial contexts, "MM" means "1,000,000" (1,000 x 1,000)

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (4, Informative)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727226)

"M" is the roman numeral for "1,000". In financial contexts, "MM" means "1,000,000" (1,000 x 1,000)

Uhhh...it would seem to me that, if we are going the roman numeral route, MM means 2000 and not 1000x1000. The year is currently MMX. Does that make it year 10,000,000?

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727660)

Uhhh...it would seem to me that, if we are going the roman numeral route, MM means 2000 and not 1000x1000.

You would be right. The financial industry has chosen a different definition though, it's sorta like the k = 1024 vs k = 1000 debate in IT. You can argue as much as you want, but to an economist MM = 1,000,000.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727682)

Absolutely. When your financial adviser says your portfolio returned 100% in MMX, he actually means that you can expect to have doubled your money when you retire in 9 million years or so.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726466)

"$80MM"

Is dollars millimeters a new unit?

M=Thousands
MM=Millions

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727530)

Not quite, it's a different value.
$1MM buys you a Library of Congress full of Volkswagens.

Re:WTF is Eighty dollars millimeters? (1)

Phroon (820247) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728678)

"$80MM"

Is dollars millimeters a new unit?

MM obviously stands for MegaMillion, and with the $ the number is clearly in hexadecimal, so the value represented is 120 MegaMillions. With the current value of the MegaMillion jackpot in excess of 242 Million USD, NYC was therefore ripped off for over 29 Trillion USD.

Clearly.

SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725968)

I'm surprised to see these two companies accused of misbehavior. Especially SAIC which has been around for a long time doing government work in DC.

Also since New York is not a self-sufficient city, but heavily subsidized by the US government, this loss of taxpayer dollars affects all of us. It's obviously worse for New York State residents, but all americans were defrauded on this one.

Re:SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726116)

Excuse me? Not self sufficient. If NYC were to break off of the union and become an independent free city we would not only have one of the largest economies in the world, but the USA economy would take a nose dive directly into the shitter and never ever escape the bowl again.

stop crying because you are from an unimportant hicktown.

Re:SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726266)

lol yeah I'm sure you would each make trillions of NY-bucks trading each other fraudulent derivatives in hobo urine futures.

Re:SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726948)

>>>If NYC were to break off of the union and become an independent free city

They would quickly bankrupt themselves. And companies that are currently receiving huge US subsidies to set-up shop in NYC, would no longer get those handouts, and move somewhere else like Philly or Boston. In short order NYC would resemble Rome City after there was no longer an empire to support it (services collapsed, people fled the city, and its population plummeted from 5 million to 100,000).

Re:SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727072)

The NYC economy is basically trading on the perceived worth and futures of the products from unimportant hicktowns.

There's some added cash-flow paying for 'teh pretty lites' and charging fees to movie studios cos you're that important.

Remind us what the last actual product from NYC was?

Re:SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726450)

SAIC was a closely-held, professional-services company for most of its history. During that period, their record for performance and ethics was far above industry standards, although certainly not free of blemishes. They're clearly devolving, at least since going public, into yet another corporation which milks its contracts, big and small, for every penny possible even when it's obvious to everyone involved, except for middle and upper management, that there's no hope of avoiding detection. It's the "Emperor's New Clothes" Syndrome. The company and its management now rely on the fact that when DoD or DoJ can no longer ignore fraudulent activity, they levy only monetary penalties, penalties which are large enough to appear punitive but which are actually small enough to preserve profitability.

I was, for over a decade, an SAIC employee who was proud of our division's performance on nearly every one of our contracts. Now I'm a government employee who observes that our (the government's) lower, middle, and upper management are, as a whole, grossly incompetent (and sometimes with willful malfeasance) to manage anything but the smallest projects. We (the government) leave our front door open and our valuables untended, so it's no surprise that thieves walk right in and help themselves.

Once upon a time, Dwight Eisenhower said, "[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." We're failing.

Re:SAIC and Spherion - really? Lost US taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726574)

Paying 80MILLION dollars for a piece of (relatively) simple software and the accompanying hardware and deployment city wide is malfeasance. The additional 700+ is just icing on the cake really. Somewhere along the lines we all decided to let our government spend upwards of 100x what private companies pay. For the SAME EXACT stuff. As long as we continue to allow that, we get this shit. Frankly, it's far FAR worse in the construction and engineering sides of the city. But the old boy network is strong over there. IT people have far less "brotherly" love. (it's because we don't have a union, silly us I guess).

lol government spending (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725976)

There's something deeply ironic about capitalist consultants scamming a city in instituting the labor theory of value for government workers.

Re:lol government spending (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726062)

You could always pay bus drivers by the number of pickups, case workers by children placed, and teacher per passing grade. But as Domino's Pizza discovered when they made drivers pay for late pizza, perverse incentives can kill. It's very difficult to compensate people according to simple performance metrics, particularly in large organizations with lots of dependencies and large projects over long timescales.

Re:lol government spending (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727744)

Thats the problem with performance based metrics. When organizations use these the results are terrible. If you have assemblymen performance based on the number of screws they put it per house then all hell will break lose when an engineer discovers they can save money by making the widget with less screws. All of the sudden their job is on the line for something the engineer thought of. People piss in each others area and undermine the company as a whole. There are many examples of this.

Teachers cheat by the way if your job is on the line with grades. Lawyers and accountants may love metrics but not the whole.

A simple procedure of who approved the projects payment processing and tasks should be done by different people in this situation. This is accounting 101 and many large companies that do not have this wall create shell companies and this is very common.

...along with a consultant's wife and mother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725978)

He married his mom?

S3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726012)

Was Richard Pryor somehow involved? :D

Quote common in fortunate 1,000 companies (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726026)

It can happen whenever the person in a corporation approving projects or supplies is the same one in charge of billing and receiving.

You can say CompanyA bought x from MegaCorp. Turns out MegaCorp is owned by someone else in CompanyA and all the paperwork checks out fine.

It shows the needs for controls. Many white collar crimes do these sorts of things as it is much easier not to get caught then insider trading or physically stealing something.

Re:Quote common in fortunate 1,000 companies (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728558)

yes, a specific type of controls that the accountants call "separation of duties"

They made ONE mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726296)

If they had a Congressman in on it, like the "Big Dig", then it is simply government mismanagement. Unfortunately for them, they didn't realize that when stealing that much money, it is important to have the right politicians in your pocket first.

stop building proprietary systems! (0)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726382)

These cities really need to stop building proprietary systems to support things that have commercial solutions at a much cheaper cost. If multi-billion dollar corporations can use the software, a city can handle the software. The city of Los Angeles has done this multiple times and wasted hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds for payroll systems that were built, deployed, and ultimately abandoned. Instead of trying to make software to fit your needs in order to please every supervisor, councilperson, superintendent, and union, go through a much needed modernization and streamlining process and make your own processes compliant with what the majority of businesses(and even municipalities) do these days.

Re:stop building proprietary systems! (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726722)

As said In some comment above: with projects like these, it's all about problems at ISO-layer 8 + 9. the software is usually your least concern.

Re:stop building proprietary systems! (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727318)

Having done this for a decade for private and public sectors, I disagree. ISO layer 8 or 9 means nothing to me and reveals nothing in a search(of course OSI layer 8 is the unofficial idiot user layer). The problem with custom software of this magnitude is that the entity is not forced to examine anything they do, they just demand and expect the system that replaces whatever they have to work just like the old one. Say your old system is running on PICK(which can be common with very old systems, ADP has been using it for various accounting and payroll related software packages since the early 80s at least). There are very few Windows or Unix based equivalents in today's world and you can be damn sure than 99.9% of major IT contracting houses have no idea how to develop for it(do you know DataBASIC? ENGLISH?) or how to make a relational database work in the same manner(they don't). In the end, the software IS the concern because these entities are asking for the software to do things that are completely arcane(such as needing it to print paychecks on a fleet of 30 year old impact printers that have limited driver support, no real API to integrate into modern development suites, etc) rather than completely overhauling everything from the ground up to completely modernize. In the end, stop going for custom solutions, because you shouldn't need to hire a bunch of retired aerospace engineers to program your software because they're the only people that know the language

Re:stop building proprietary systems! (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34729040)

But what you describe looks like an ISO layer 8 + 9 problem to me. People and organizations that somehow want "more modern" software but do not want to change their workflows. Such a project is almost guarranteed to fail IMO.

usual suspects (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726800)

These large consulting firms like SAIC suck all the oxygen out of the room in overhead and are prime contractors for one mega software disaster after another. If I were contracting a project like this out I would want to see a working system of anything remotely resembling the project up and running with test data.

If the consultancy can't demonstrate a running project of similar scope, complexity, and scaling, then it is a mistake to choose them to do your project. If they can demonstrate it, then a shell of the system minus proprietary screen details and business logic should be put in place and source provided, and a clean build done with the source code, as a condition of startng the project and initial payments.

As far as I can tell, this sort of start is rarely done and these large consulting forms drain the entire budget with non-technical people before ever starting, minus purchases for new hardware which is always cited as a major project achievement but consists of nothing more than buying computers and hardware and setting them up.

In addition, I think it's a major mistake to start out a project as "web based" or before that "client server". As we programmers know, it should be interface independent. I know that sounds naive and theoretical, but we know that the complexity is in the business logic and developing a system that computes what the business needs, even if sometimes we don't all figure that out until we take a pass at it and compare test results with the users and realize that the users missed something or we misinterpreted something or usually both. In any event, iterating through test cycles fleshes that out.

That is most important and has little to do with the interface in some respects. Of course the interface can be a major source of misinterpretation but it shouldn't be in the beginning. The development should be with data passed with message queues, sockets, and the like initially and the interface only enough to fill in and display in/out data structures, result set arrays, etc.

A shell template of the process, which admittedly even at that minimal level is a large and important endeavor, needs to be developed with specific calculation procedures to be filled in later, a large 80-80 dump system if you will speaking old school. This fleshes out so much need and clarifies specifications that have nothing to do with whether it's "web based" that all that should be solid, and then the calculations firmed up and solid test results attained, before anything is done on interface screens, in this case web pages.

I wrote a back end for a full featured jobs site for a consulting firm in 2000 on the AS/400 iseries and quite frankly I tested all the API calls with 5250 screens via data queues (message queues) before calling from web pages. I wrote the complete back end in three months and we did the entire jobs site in a little more than that, about four months, just two people. Web pages were delivered in a few milliseconds, performance was very good.

Now I didn't have anything to do with the business end of it and it was only up a year or so before the consulting company and business partners parted ways, but it worked very well and in my opinion had just about all the features of the job boards at the time, but that's not the entire point here. The point is the backend server was oriented to our planned web pages in some respect but developing it and getting it right exposes any problems early on until it produces output to specifications.

After that, interfaces can be as complex and helpful as one wants to make them but they don't make a system complex because it is "web based". Of course the backend has to be written stateless with that in mind, providing whatever methodology to restore state as needed for each transaction.

With all of this, I would structure contracts to meet objectives in that order at certain time / cost milestones before authorizing next phase. If we did that, we would not necessarily make all these huge software projects successful, but we would stop them far earlier with no unnecessary work done if the contractors can't achieve the base requirements. Of course changing "clarified" specifications would lengthen the milestone, but meeting the specs in hand at the milestone is something that needs to be able to be demonstrated before authorizing a continuation.

  rd

Bloomberg PN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726850)

Bloomberg wants to do it because he saw the huge value Bloomberg LP got by implementing {PN} (Programmer Notes) for Bloomberg R&D. It provided a way to closely monitor the allocation of resources and thereby easily monitor ... such things as cost overruns.
Ironic.

Re:Bloomberg PN (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727828)

After the Sanitation Department bent him over the table in the recent blizzard maybe Bloomie realizes the type of people he is dealing with. This ain't Bloomberg LP.

fi8st? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726974)

as it i5 licensed anD suggesting

And only $80m of $722m was fraud?? (2)

mikein08 (1722754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726994)

$722m to develop a time-and-attendance system? And it's not operational? And the people in charge - if indeed anyone was ever really in charge, which I highly doubt - have not been at least been fired long ago? The whole situation is a scam of huge proportions. I'm amazed only $80m has been attributed to fraud - so far.

I don't understand (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727212)

If they actually pulled $80MM out between them, that's $20MM each. That's money that allows you to disappear, to buy a house on a beach in Thailand or Costa Rica and never work or care again--or if you hunger for civilization, to construct a new identity that creates a totally clean break with the theft.

Why the fuck would you stick around after stealing $20MM?

Re:I don't understand (3, Insightful)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727610)

Why the fuck would you stick around after stealing $20MM?

You actually have to ask that question? The answer is so obvious it's impossible to miss.

Greed makes you stupid. Greed is self-destructive. Greed keeps you thinking you can keep on getting away with anything.

So, that's the answer? The same thing that caused them to want to steal in the first place: Greed.

Re:I don't understand (2)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727622)

I do recall seeing a police detective interviewed, saying something along the lines of what you said: Criminals are greedy, so they're stupid, so they're usually quite easy to catch. People smart enough to get away with crime are smart enough to now that it's usually not worth doing.

Re:I don't understand (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728204)

Greed makes you stupid. Greed is self-destructive. Greed keeps you thinking you can keep on getting away with anything.

While I won't go quite that far, the reason you stick around is to get more money.

Yes, I could live out the rest of my life quite handsomely on $20 Million. But I could live out the rest of my life even better with $40 Million. Or $60 Million.

A shame that they were exposed?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34727562)

Dept. of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn called it a shame that 'supposed experts hired and paid well to protect the city's interests were exposed as the fox guarding the hen house.'

Not a problem that they committed a crime, but that they were caught?

$642 still missing? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728178)

OK, so $80M is accounted for, where's the rest?

WP says NYC employs a quarter million people - some fraction of those are hourly.

This project should be priced closer to $10/head, not $5000.

names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34728228)

MARK MAZER, DMITRY ARONSHTEIN, VICTOR NATANZON, and SCOTT BERGER –-
for operating a fraudulent scheme that led to the
misappropriation of more than $80 million in New York City funds
allocated for an information technology project known as
"CityTime." MAZER, ARONSHTEIN, and NATANZON are also charged --
along with MARK MAZER’s wife, SVETLANA MAZER, and his mother,
LARISA MEDZON

Sounds like your basic Japanese Yakuza operation yet again.

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