The NY Times reports that New York City will soon unveil a new public authority “that will operate free of the usual city procurement rules, salary limits and legislative oversight.” The agency will oversee software projects costing over $25 million, or over $5 million and involving more than one agency. The new agency is a response to a series of hugely expensive, software development fiascoes that hundreds of millions in cost overruns. The agency will operate in conjunction with the city’s information agency, DOITT, but not supplant it. The Times report cites off the record experts questioning the efficacy of a new agency given the already complex city management structure. Regardless, the move is a sign that the city — which has far more talented and experienced technologists than most local governments — finds dealing with the onrush of new technology extremely challenging. It also raises the question of why cities and states do not work together with the federal government to find more universal software solutions to the challenges they share. New York City should not have to go it alone, nor should towns and counties with far fewer resources.
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