NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — His name is Bart Schwartz. He’s the man on the hot seat, the new monitor hired to overhaul the city’s troubled public housing system.
He had never done a television interview before he sat down with Marcia Kramer on Monday. It’s a story you’ll see only on CBS2.
Later this year, NYCHA will begin a three-year project to replace the old rusted boilers at the Taft Houses in East Harlem, switching to natural gas instead of heating oil. The leftover oil will be added to a mind-boggling obsolete stockpile of 2.6 million gallons on various NYCHA properties that according to Schwartz is both a valuable asset, “That could be sold,” and a possible nightmare waiting to happen, a monumental environmental hazard if the tanks deteriorate and leak.
“That’s another example that concerns me about NYCHA, is sometimes they’d rather wait for a crisis before trying to solve the problem,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz, who issued his first NYCHA report last week, is now focused on moving forward and trying to make dramatic improvements to a decaying public housing stock beset with lead paint, rats, broken elevators and on and on.
One of the most pressing problems is the computer system, called “Maximo,” that first off can’t accurately track repair requests.
Why? One big reason.
“When Maximo was first purchased they may not have purchased all of the modules that they should have,” Schwartz said. “I asked if a plumber goes into a building to do a repair and there are 19 other apartments in the same building that need the same repair, can you tell that plumber you have 18 more to go and they said the system is incapable of doing that.”
When asked if the city cheaped out, Schwartz said, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
Tracking work orders is another issue.
“Originally, and this is changing, but each step in the process of a repair was a different work order,” Schwartz said.
So say there was a report of a leak. Step 1 would be to verify the leak. Close that work order. Step 2, send someone to open up the wall. Step 3, send someone up to look at the pipe.
“You could have five or six work orders closed and not have repaired anything,” Schwartz said.
And to make sure NYCHA is spending its money wisely, Schwartz said he intends to start looking at billions of dollars in procurement contracts and the possibility of kickbacks.
“The integrity of the procurement system is critical to getting good work and getting value for your money,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz has established working groups to deal with each of NYCHA’s problem areas. The working groups will come up with action plans and develop pilot projects to fix problems.