New York City comptroller rejects $432 million no-bid contract for migrant services

The New York City comptroller announced Wednesday that he has rejected a $432 million no-bid contract with a medical services company for providing services to migrants, raising questions about how the contract was awarded and the qualifications of the company.

‘My office did not make this decision lightly. After a careful review, we are declining to approve this contract due to numerous outstanding concerns,’ Comptroller Brad Lander said in a statement. 

Lander returned the contract to the New York City Housing & Preservation Development (HPD) department citing concerns over the selection of the vendor, an alleged lack of expertise and what he saw as a lack of vetting from the agency. 

‘The agency’s contract submission to our office fails to describe how the $432 million price tag was reached,’ he said. ‘There was little evidence to show that this company has the experience to provide the services it has been contracted for.’ 

‘Contradictory information was provided regarding their fiscal capacity and serious questions were raised about the integrity and responsibility of this vendor and their subcontractors,’ he said.

Lander also cited reports that two of DocGo’s subcontractors hired security guards without authorization, and also flagged recent remarks by its CEO, in which he told investors he had a ‘high degree of confidence’ that revenues would stay strong due to the lack of a federal solution to the crisis. The company is already facing investigations, including one by the state attorney general into alleged mistreatment or misleading of migrants.

‘If DocGo’s CEO is rooting for a never-ending crisis to maximize revenues on a $432 million contract with New York City and leverage billions of dollars more from the federal government — amidst procurement concerns from our Office about vendor selection, vendor responsibility, fiscal capacity, and subcontractor selection, as well as several ongoing investigations by other public agencies — HPD may want to reconsider whether this vendor is appropriate for the services described,’ Lander said in a letter to the head of HPD. 

He noted that it is the first of 303 emergency contracts (69 of which are related to the ongoing migrant crisis) he has refused to approve. 

DocGo defended its work and experience in a statement to Fox News Digital.

‘DocGo, one of the nation’s largest logistics companies in the mobile healthcare space, has been successfully providing critical services to asylum seekers through an agreement with [HPD] for more than four months. We have thousands of asylum seekers currently in our care who rely on funding from the City for this program to receive case management, social work, food and housing. DocGo’s quick action to step up in the face of this crisis has been critical in helping the City meet the needs of the asylum seekers in our care,’ a spokesperson said.

‘Notwithstanding yesterday’s response from the Comptroller, we have received assurance from the Mayor’s office that NYC intends to fully pay DocGo for the services delivered under this contract, both historically and going forward,’ the company spokesperson added. ‘Since 2015, DocGo has provided and delivered services in over 7.5 million patient interactions. We have been providing social work services for underserved populations here in NYC for over two years, and have been working with NYC to provide services for asylees since this crisis began a year ago. We will continue to work with our partners at NYC to ensure that asylum seekers continue to receive these vital services.’

The controversy is the latest political turmoil connected to the New York City migrant crisis. Approximately 110,000 migrants have hit the Big Apple since last year, some on their own and others being transported in by Texas. The self-described ‘sanctuary’ city has said it is overwhelmed by the surge, and Mayor Eric Adams has been fiercely critical of the Biden administration for what he sees as a lack of federal action.

He has called on the government to make an emergency declaration, expedite work permits and provide more funding. Adams has also stressed that the cost to the city could hit $12 billion next year. 

His office responded to the comptroller’s decision on Wednesday.

‘Since the spring of 2022, New York City has, almost entirely on its own, managed a humanitarian crisis that has resulted in more than 100,000 asylum seekers coming to our city in search of shelter,’ a spokesperson said.

‘Over the last year, our administration has strategically used emergency contracts to provide beds and services to individuals and families entering our care while we urge our state and federal partners to provide the additional support needed. The Comptroller’s Office approved the city’s emergency contract with DocGo this summer, as New York City was forced to undertake its own decompression strategy. With nearly 60,000 people currently in the city’s care and thousands more coming every month, we are doing everything we can to stop families from being forced to sleep on the streets, and we are hopeful our partners in the Comptroller’s Office will work with us towards that goal.’

Adams was asked about the decision later Wednesday and told reporters, ‘We are going to move forward,’ indicating he intended to keep going with DocGo via the use of an emergency contract approval.

‘We can’t change the rules in the middle of the game. I think the comptroller saw an opportunity to get in the conversation, but we have a ruling from him and his office on doing emergency contracts, and we’ll just continue to do that as we deal with this humanitarian crisis that has been dropped on everyday New Yorkers,’ he said.

Separately, the commissioner of the HPD has written to the CEO of DocGo to say there is ‘no risk of non-payment’ as a result of the comptroller’s letter and payment will ‘commence promptly.’

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