The payout to an outside consultant hired to stem the violence at Rikers Island has ballooned from $1.7 million to $27.4 million in less than three years — even as the city jails system has seen a significant spike in assaults, records show.
Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday sounded the alarm over the repeated extensions of contracts with McKinsey & Co., which first signed the $1.7 million deal with the de Blasio administration in September 2014.
After subsequent increases brought the price to $13.5 million in early 2016, a third expansion last month added $13.9 million in new costs to extend the contract again through April, according to Stringer.
“The contract appears to include services that should have been completed under the terms of [prior contracts],” Stringer wrote to Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte on Monday.
“If there is no overlap in the services and deliverables between these contracts, then the city appears to have grossly underestimated the cost of the services,” he added. “Or, McKinsey may have lacked the necessary experience in prison management to complete the agreed-upon tasks within the original contracted time period.”
The allocation of millions of dollars in additional funds for McKinsey comes even as many measures of violence in the city’s jails system are moving in the wrong direction.
The rate of violent inmate-on-inmate incidents between July 2016 and November 2016 was up 21 percent over the same five-month period in 2015 (measured by the monthly rate of the average daily population per 1,000 inmates) — and nearly double the comparable period in 2012, according to data posted online by the Mayor’s Office of Operations.
Inmate assaults on staff increased by 8.3 percent between July and November 2016 compared with the same five months in 2015 — and again, were nearly double the comparable period in 2012.
The rate of serious injuries to staff stemming from those attacks rose by 56 percent in 2016, after having declined from a relative high in 2013, the data show.
Serious injuries to inmates also increased by 20.3 percent between July and November 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.
Correction officials said McKinsey’s services have been critical to boosting the safety environment at Rikers — including developing an analytic tool that helps classify where inmates should be housed based on factors such as gang affiliation and age.
They said the two housing units where reforms have been implemented most deeply are seeing the biggest reductions in violence.
“This contract extension will allow McKinsey to continue to support the Department of Correction in the implementation of successful violence-reduction initiatives — including new models for housing and managing inmates and expanded leadership training for uniformed staff — and in ensuring the sustainability of ongoing reforms,” said DOC spokesman Peter Thorne.
Officials said while the latest contract extension was for four months, the associated costs were retroactive to July 2016.
McKinsey & Co. officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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