New York City Comptroller Brad Lander declined to approve a $432 million emergency contract with DocGo, a medical services provider the city had tapped to care for asylum seekers.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Lander said he returned the no-bid contract to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
“My office did not make this decision lightly. After a careful review, we are declining to approve this contract due to numerous outstanding concerns,” Lander said.
“The agency’s contract submission to our office fails to describe how the $432 million price tag was reached. 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,” Lander added.
A spokesperson for City Hall said in a statement that the city has used emergency contracts "to provide beds and services to individuals and families entering our care."
“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,” the statement said.
According to the New York City charter, Mayor Eric Adams has the power to override Lander's objections and singlehandedly approve the contract with DocGo, after responding in writing to the comptroller's objections.
In a statement, a spokesperson from DocGo told NY1 the company, “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.”
Adams on Wednesday said the city comptroller already gave blanket approval to emergency contracts, and that the DocGo one needs no approval from his office.
"I think the comptroller probably saw an opportunity to just get in the conversation, but we have a ruling from him, his office, during the emergency contracts, and we're just gonna continue to do that," the mayor said.
DocGo filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a letter from the city's housing commissioner that says the comptroller's letter presents "no risk of non-payment" and that "payment under the contract will commend promptly."
Lander said he hopes DocGo and the city would address his criticisms instead.
"Choosing to push forward to pay them despite a lack of answers to those questions, I believe would be a mistake," Lander said.
DocGo came under scrutiny earlier this summer, with New York Attorney General Letitia James announcing that her office was investigating accusations that the medical services provider mishandled migrants in its care.
DocGo CEO Anthony Capone told Spectrum News NY1 the allegations, first reported by the New York Times, led to terminations, discipline or retraining.
On Sept. 1, meanwhile, the New York State Department of State said more than 50 security guards hired to work at upstate hotels housing asylum seekers did not have proper authorization to do so.
The companies who hired the security guards were contracted by DocGo, the Department of State said.
A DocGo spokesperson said the company took immediate action to remedy the situation and abide by the state’s standards, saying in a statement that the provider’s “top priority is the health and safety of the asylum seekers in our care."
On that same day, the Albany Times Union reported that DocGo is using its experience contracting with New York City to seek a $4 billion federal contract to provide with migrants crossing the border with medical services.