CityTime Scandal Contractors Tried to Hire City Critic

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What to do when you're a private computer consultant whose project for the city is excruciatingly over-budget and falling way behind?

Hey -- how about this? Offer the city supervisor a job!

That's the approach taken by officials of the Virginia-based defense contracting company, Science Applications International Corp., who are running the now deeply scandal-scarred CityTime payroll computerization project, according to Juan Gonzalez's latest blast in today's News.

The offer was allegedly made in January, 2002, to Richard Valcich, ex-director of the office Payroll Administration, who was then overseeing the bungled project that has since soared from $63 million to a more than $600 million cost for taxpayers.

Valcich apparently blew a gasket when an SAIC official made the job pitch in a meeting. He then wrote a polite but stern follow-up letter spelling out in writing that it is a violation of every rule in the book to offer post-city employment to a city official overseeing your work.

In the letter, Valcich apologized "if I seemed rude and abruptly shortened your discussion on a future post city-employment position with SAIC." He added: "[I]t is inappropriate to discuss any post employment with a company that I do business [with]... "[I am] flattered you would consider me for such a position with SAIC but there are restrictions due to the city's conflicts of interest rules."

The letter is the latest nugget to emerge from city Comptroller John Liu's highly critical September audit of the deeply-tangled CityTime project which was intended to simplify city worker time-cards and payroll. Last week, the feds busted four consultants accused of milking the effort of $80 million through their own bogus timecards and shell corporations. One of those arrested, Mark Mazer, had "special access" -- it's the feds' term, not ours -- to Joel Bondy, the Office of Payroll Administration director who succeeded Valcich who retired in 2004.

Liu's audit also surfaced another Valcich-to-SAIC letter written a year after he turned down the job pitch and reported in Tuesday's News and Times. In that February, 2003 letter, Valcich accused the firm of deliberately obstructing progress.

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