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Migrant Contracts Are Excessive, Comptroller Says

The comptroller's latest report suggested that a lack of coordination from the city may have led to millions of dollars in unnecessary payments.
Eric Adams Considers Housing Migrants on Cruise Ships
Asylum seekers in New York City.

A new report from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said there is wasteful spending and discrepancies in the city's emergency staffing contracts for asylum seeker services.

Lander said there is a lack of coordination from City Hall may have led to millions of dollars in unnecessary payments to for-profit companies — which were hired to provide staffing services at hotels, welcome centers and Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRCs).

While analyzing the top four contracted companies — listed as The Essey Group, SLSCO LP, Rapid Reliable Testing NY LLC and Garner Environmental Services  — the comptroller discovered stark differences in the pricing of their staffing rates. 

According to the report, hourly compensation for one of the analyzed positions ranged from $58 to more than three times that amount ($201) across the four contracts.

Also notably, three of the contracts — all but Essey — were allegedly picked by the city without a competitive bidding process, with no evidence of city officials working together to ensure competitive pricing or monitor service quality, the report said.

Finally, the comptroller compared how much the city paid the contracted agencies versus the potential costs of using city employees, further highlighting the issue of overspending.

According to the comptroller, some of the staffing costs under SLSCO's contract reportedly yielded a rate that was around 2.5 times higher than if city employees were utilized instead.

“The city’s haphazard approach to entering these contracts — and their subsequent failure to compare or control prices across them — underscores the pitfalls of inadequate management of emergency procurement,” said Lander. “The result is that city agencies likely spent millions of dollars more than necessary for the same services.” 

In response to his findings, the comptroller recommended that the city dopt a competitive procurement process that is managed by a single agency, with the potential benefits including “competitive pricing, contractor oversight and improved coordination.”

“Rather than evicting people from shelter in the middle of winter, the city should insist on getting the most competitive prices from its own contractors in order to keep costs down,” said Lander.