Critics rip CUNY over planned $3M contract with post-COVID consultants

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The CUNY board of trustees should scrap its planned $3 million no-bid contract with powerhouse consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to help campuses with their fall re-openings — because the colleges had already submitted their proposals, critics said Sunday.

The contract — scheduled to be voted on at a special CUNY board meeting Monday afternoon — has provoked outrage among lawmakers and professors.

The proposed business agreement, which involves about two months of work, is unnecessary, they said.

“Speaking of things that make you go hmmm — $3 million for two months of high-priced consultants on a plan for which there are already enough highly paid CUNY officials, while students continue to suffer from a shortage of full-time professional faculty,” said state Sen.John Liu (D-Queens), the former city comptroller who chairs the senate’s panel on New York City education.

“This is not what we just increased the CUNY budget for,” added Liu, referring to the recently passed state budget.

John Jay College Professor Elizabeth Hovey also sent an e-mail blast to CUNY officials under the subject heading, “Don’t Spend $3Mill on McKinsey – use CUNY expertise and value Students.”

“I have learned that you are planning to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on advice that you did not develop with all the loyal expertise of CUNY experts on health and security you could draw on. How dare you?” she said in the e-mail obtained by The Post.

Hovey, an officer with the faculty union the Professional Staff Congress, also referred to McKinsey & Co’s checkered history.

McKinsey agreed in February to pay $573 million to settle allegations that it fueled the opioid epidemic when it helped Purdue Pharma boost sales of the drug.

The Cuomo administration also brought on McKinsey in April 2020 to address issues leading up to the state’s eventual reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic. The consulting firm worked with state Department of Health officials on a controversial report on COVID nursing-home deaths that was later rewritten by Cuomo’s aides to hide the number of fatalities, according to a report.

The low-balling of nursing-home deaths is the subject of state and federal probes.

Another McKinsey pandemic-related effort in Florida’s Miami-Dade County was panned by an official there as nothing more than the firm “compiling data for us. And putting it in pretty formats,” according to a report by ProPublica.

An Albany insider said the CUNY contract came out of nowhere and is standing out like a sore thumb.

“Where is this coming from? Why does CUNY need to hire an outside firm to do this work?” the source said. “Isn’t that what the administration on the campuses and the central administration is supposed to do — plan for the reopening? This is great work if you can get it!”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has considerable sway over CUNY. He appoints most of the governing board members.

Former city Comptroller Bill Thompson is the CUNY board chairman, and state Budget Director Robert Mujica, a CUNY- Brooklyn Collage alum, sits on the board.

CUNY has been mostly on remote instruction since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

But the system’s schools had already formulated reopening plans in anticipation of returning last fall, according to CUNY’s Web site.

Citing the pandemic, CUNY waived its bidding requirement and only looked at McKinsey and another firm for the re-opening contract, according to a draft resolution.

The proposed hiring agreement noted McKinsey was providing a 33 percent discount for the project.

Meanwhile, CUNY was in such dire financial condition last year that Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez in November ordered furloughs for hundreds of top staffers.

CUNY spokesman Frank Sobrino said of the proposed consulting contract, “McKinsey will contribute extensive logistics expertise and experience to the task of safely re-opening our campuses to in-person instruction this fall.”

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