Mayor Michael Bloomberg accepted some of the blame Monday for the embarrassing CityTime payroll scandal that has marred his third term and turned into one of the largest fraud schemes ever perpetrated against the city.
“Certainly nobody paid as much attention to it as they should have, from me on down, and we’re going to find out who did what,” Bloomberg told reporters after attending an unrelated event.
Bloomberg’s admitted failure Monday in overseeing the project is a departure from his stance last month, before a new indictment was handed down in the case. Then, he said that “we actually did a pretty good job here, in retrospect.”
On Monday, Bloomberg struck a different note.
“We should have watched it more carefully and hopefully we learn and don’t make the same mistake again,” he said.
The CityTime payroll-modernization project aims to replace timesheets for city employees with hand scanners. However, federal prosecutors have called the job “corrupted to its core,” accusing nearly a dozen employee subcontractors and consultants of overcharging the city about $80 million since 2005. Two have pleaded guilty, while the others accused say they are innocent.
The project itself has been called a boondoggle and criticized for how long it’s taken to complete. Its cost ballooned from an estimated $63 million in 1998 to now more than $700 million.
Last month, a former project manager, Gerard Denault, was charged with pocketing $5 million in a kickback scheme with a subcontractor and fudging records for the hours he actually worked.
Science Applications International Corporation, the company overseeing the project, paid about $2.4 million to the city in connection with Denault, who had been fired for falsifying his work hours. A spokesperson did not return a call seeking comment.
Prosecutors have claimed that almost all the money paid to the contractors for the project has in some form been “tainted” by fraud.