An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Screwed by "Efficiency"

A NY Daily News story explains how the City of NY has spent $700,000,000 to create unfinished and undistributed software to track the hours worked by its employees. Of course back in the Giuliani administration the sales pitch was that this was only going to cost somewhere around $68,000,000, or less than a tenth of what its cost and counting.

Obviously, its an economic disaster at a time of shrinking budgets, but the extra magical part is the plan to have city workers sign in and out and in again using biometric palm scanners. That is right! There is so much theft of city services by city workers that they have to submit to being scanned every time they leave for lunch and come back. Here is the relevant quote, "The most contentious part of the program has been biometric palm scanners. City labor leaders consider it a huge violation of privacy rights. About 19,000 of the 45,000 workers on the system are being required to use the scanners to clock in and out each day and during lunch hours.

"It's absolutely outrageous, like Big Brother," said Jon Forster, vice president of the Local 375 of AFSCME, which represents the city's architects and technicians.

Now, in the age of swine flu, Forster notes, hundreds of people in various agencies must put their hands into these machines that often get sweaty and unsanitary.

Those who do not use hand scanners must punch in using a time clock each time they log on and off of their computers, or by filling out electronic time sheets. The city has left it up to individual agencies to decide which workers will use which system."

So not only do we not have a functioning new computerized time keeping system, if we do get it we will be asking our municipal workers like the NYPD & FDNY (a.k.a.: our first responder heroes) to give up their civil rights and biometric information multiple times a day just to make sure that nobody signs them in a little early. As Juan Gonzalez writes in his article, "Do the math for a moment: $700 million to track 140,000 city workers is costing $5,000 per worker - all for a new-age time clock!"

- By AR (but posted by Steven).

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