2020-04-28

Laura Feyer

Tipster Tells Checks & Balances Project: Ivalua’s Software for NYC Still Does Not Work As Promised Nearly 4 Years After French Tech Company Won Lucrative Contract

In July, 2016, New York City’s Mayors Office of Contract Services (MOCS) announced City agencies and vendors would communicate about “all future solicitations or notifications” through the Payee Information Portal (PIP). Yet two months before, NYC awarded a $30.5M contract to Ivalua, an inexperienced French technology company, to implement a new eProcurement system to help city agencies better manage business with vendors and save money.

That contract has now bloated to nearly $47M, and Ivalua’s system still doesn’t work as promised.

As recently as last December, MOCS Director and Chief Procurement Officer Dan Symon lauded Ivalua’s work for the City:

“an end-to-end procurement system that involves 40 city agencies, 6,000 staff, thousands of vendors, and more than 43,000 procurement actions annually.”

But, according to our tipster, that “end-to-end” system still requires vendors to communicate with the City through a separate PIP system. This has created confusion for vendors, including potentially those trying to supply the city with critical COVID19 medical supplies.

That left us asking: Doesn’t end-to-end mean one complete functional system?

A New Tip Sheds Light on Vendor Confusion

The tipster, who claims to be vendor doing business with New York City, wrote to us expressing their frustration getting paid for services recently provided to the City:

“I’m a vendor to NYC and I want to share some info with you regarding your investigation into the contract between the city and the procurement software company Ivalua. A few months ago, in an attempt to get paid for the service our company provides to NYC, we tried to register as a vendor through the new system that Ivalua was hired to implement. However, when we tried to register that way we were told by the comptrollers office to register under the old system Vendex.

“I read on your blog about how the first thing that Ivalua was supposed to do for NYC was install a new vendor registration system. Apparently after spending millions on the system that is still not the case. I would try calling Vendex help desk to learn more about this dysfunction.”

This seems curious to us considering the millions that the City has already spent on an all-in-one eProcurement system since 2016 to resolve issues like the one that the tipster describes. To find out more, we contacted:

  • Nick Benson, director of communications at the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). Although DCAS is listed in the NYC-Ivalua Implementation Agreement signed in May 2016 as one of three supervising agencies for the eProcurement project, Nick refused to answer our question. He sent us to:
  • Laura Feyer, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. MOCS was a second of the three supervisory agencies listed in the Implementation Agreement. Laura responded by adding Julia Arrendondo, who describes herself as on LinkedIn as a “Press Office Intern NYC Department of City Planning.” Laura promised, on Friday, “We will get back to you, thanks.”

We could ask the press officer at the DoITT, the third supervising agency, but MOCS took the Ivalua eProcurement project away from DoITT on Jan. 1, 2019. It’s worth noting that MOCS has dragged its feet for months since August 2019 on fulfilling a reasonable request for emails from one former employee’s account.

What is the Mayor’s Office Hiding?

Meanwhile, there’s confusion that vendors have to use two systems, even after millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on a new system to address this very problem. In a time of collapsing city revenues, taxpayers will understandably ask: Why?

We have yet to hear back from de Blasio spokespersons Laura Feyer or Julia Arrendondo, but we’ll update readers when do.

 

Do you have information to share? Send us a note through our confidential tip line.

 

Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.

You May Also Want to Read:

NYC Vendor System Appears Mired in “Red Tape,” Delaying First Order of Medical Supplies to Address Pandemic

New York City’s $47M Taxpayer Ripoff: A Cast of Characters & Timeline

C&BP Analysis: NYC Pays 340x More Per Agency for an e-Procurement System than Dallas`