NYC missed Rikers violence suit deadlines despite $3M paid to accounting firm KPMG

NYC missed Rikers violence suit deadlines despite $3M paid to accounting firm KPMG

The Correction Department hired accounting giant KPMG in 2021 on a $3 million no-bid “emergency” contract to make sure it made deadlines in its plan to fix violence and use of force in New York City jails, records show.

There’s evidence that despite its price tag, the plan didn’t work as city officials hoped.

Correction officials continued to have trouble hitting the deadlines of their “action plan” to resolve problems at Rikers Island and other lockups, say multiple reports filed in 2023 by the federal monitor in the Nunez class action lawsuit over violence and use of force in the jails.

“Key problems include poor internal coordination on Nunez matters, inability to produce complete and relevant information, and to properly manage deadlines and priorities,” the monitoring team wrote in a July 5 report.

In its June 8 report, nearly a year after KPMG was hired, the Nunez monitoring team titled an entire section “Deadlines Ignored.” “Even with these deadlines, a significant number of requests for information go unfulfilled,” the report said.

The monitoring team noted in the June 8 report it had to repeatedly remind DOC of key deadlines, but even then the agency had trouble meeting them.

“There is a pervasive need for dogged prompting from the Monitoring Team to ensure deadlines are met,” that report said.

NYC Correction Dept. paid accounting giant KPMG $3M in failed effort to meet Rikers violence monitor deadlines

Barry Williams for New York Daily News

The Correction Department, under Commissioner Louis Molina, hired KMPG on July 1, 2022 on an “emergency” basis and as of last week had paid out .92 million on the contract, records maintained by the city Comptroller’s office show.

The Correction Department, under Commissioner Louis Molina, hired KMPG on July 1, 2022 on an “emergency” basis and as of last Monday had paid out $2.92 million on the contract, records maintained by the city Comptroller’s office show.

The purpose is listed in city records as “Emergency contract for project management consulting service.”

“Not only was this an expensive way to get the city to meet its own deadlines, but it was ineffective, as the monitor has repeatedly found the city’s implementation of the action plan was a failure,” said Mary Lynne Werlwas, director of the Prisoners Rights Project of The Legal Aid Society.

Neither the Correction Department nor KPMG responded to requests for comment.

An “emergency” contract means there was no competitive bidding, often driving up the cost to taxpayers. Under the city administrative code, an emergency contract can be let if there “is an unforeseen danger to life, safety, property or a necessary service.”

NYC Correction Dept. paid accounting giant KPMG $3M in failed effort to meet Rikers violence monitor deadlines

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The Correction Department, under Commissioner Louis Molina, hired KMPG on July 1, 2022 on an “emergency” basis and as of Monday had paid out .92 million on the contract, records maintained by the city Comptroller’s office show.

“The existence of such a condition creates an immediate and serious need for goods, services, or construction that cannot be met through normal procurement methods,”  city rules state.

Correction officials never publicly discussed the contract or its purpose, but it was mentioned briefly in an Oct. 28, 2022 court filing by the Nunez monitor.

“Department has contracted with the consulting firm KPMG, which seems to be a useful addition to the effort to synchronize various moving parts and deadlines,” the monitor report stated.

The Correction Department’s “action plan,” created in spring 2022, was the Adams administration’s attempt to stave off the threat of federal court receivership. In October, the monitor concluded the action plan fell short and conditions in the jails have gotten worse.

Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said in July he supported the appointment of an outside receiver to oversee the jails.

NYC Correction Dept. paid accounting giant KPMG $3M in failed effort to meet Rikers violence monitor deadlines

Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News

Southern District of New York Attorney Andre Damian Williams Jr. said in July he supported the appointment of an outside receiver to oversee the jails.

Lawyers for detainees are expected to file 100-page motions in favor of receivership later this month, with the city’s response set for January. Meanwhile, Molina has accepted a new title as assistant deputy mayor.

Outside consultants have not always been a help to the Correction Department. In 2015, the city hired the McKinsey consulting firm to a $5.9 million contract to come up with a plan to reduce violence in the jails, the Daily News previously reported.

Two years later, the contract’s cost had ballooned to $27 million as Correction Department staff questioned the 70% drop in violence the firm claimed.

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