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New York City to wind down no-bid migrant services contract

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(The Center Square) — New York City plans to end its agreement with a medical services company that was awarded a controversial, multi-million dollar no-bid contract to provide services for migrants.

The Adams administration announced this week that it is winding down its contract with New York-based DocGo as part of a broader plan to cut costs for sheltering and caring for tens of thousands of asylum seekers who’ve arrived in the city over the past year.

Last year, Mayor Eric Adams signed a $432 million contract with the company under emergency procedures that waived the city’s standard competitive bidding requirements. Adams went ahead with the deal despite concerns by fiscal watchdogs that the company was ill-prepared to provide the services. That contract expires on May 5, and the city plans to put out bids to find a replacement.

“This will ultimately allow the city to save more money and will allow others, including non-profits and internationally-recognized resettlement providers, to apply to do this critical work,” Camille Joseph Varlack, Adams’ chief of staff said in a statement.

In a separate statement, DocGo said it is “immensely proud of the exceptional work that our team has accomplished and continues to perform in aiding the city’s response to this unprecedented crisis.”

City Comptroller Brad Lander, who had strongly criticized the DocGo contract, praised the Adams administration’s decision not to renew the agreement but he still has concerns about the replacement.

“After months of warnings about the selection of this vendor and its performance, I’m relieved that the administration finally came to its senses,” he said in a statement.

But Lander said he remains concerned about the “costly emergency contracts” the city is using to provide services for asylum seekers, and said a review of the contracts determined that the replacement contractor, Garner, is “extremely expensive” for the city.

“The city’s haphazard management of these contracts, especially DocGo, exemplifies the pitfalls of continuing to treat asylum seekers like an emergency for two years, rather than providing services that will get them work authorization, status, security, and safety so that they can thrive in New York,” he said.

A recent report by Lander’s office revealed deficiencies in the Adams administration’s emergency contracting practices, which totaled $54 million as of the end of November. Lander’s report said a lack of transparency in the emergency contracting process increases the risk of overpayment and corruption.

Lander’s office previously raised concerns about a $432 million no-bid contract with DocGo, a private medical services provider, to provide emergency housing and other migrant services. An audit suggested the company was “ill prepared” to handle the volume of asylum seekers requiring housing and other public assistance.

Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into allegations that DocGo has been deceiving and threatening migrants while failing to vet security officers properly.

New York City has had an influx of more than 180,000 asylum seekers in the past year and a surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The city is providing housing, food and other necessities for more than 60,000 migrants in hundreds of temporary “humanitarian” shelters across the city. The Adams administration spent more than $1.45 billion on migrants in the previous fiscal year.

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