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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

The $1,487,100 question

That’s the figure de Blasio’s administration paid a Virginia firm to evaluate future Civil Service exams.

The NYPD administered its captain's exam in November.

The NYPD administered its captain's exam in November. Photo Credit: Getty Images

What’s with the NYPD’s captain’s exam? That’s the $1,487,100 question.

That’s the figure Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration agreed to pay a Virginia consulting to create, analyze and score Civil Service exams going forward. The captain’s exam was given in November.

According to Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, 541 officers filed to take the exam, and 480 officers sat for it.

Eight months later, there is no list of those who passed. So, why the delay?

It turns out the Department of Citywide Administrative Services signed a $1,487,100 contract with Morris & McDaniel, says NYPD Assistant Chief Patrick Conry.

In the NYPD, there is grumbling that the firm was hired to examine the validity of various questions on the captain’s exam to increase the number of nonwhite captains. “I’ve heard those concerns expressed,” said Richter. But, he added, “there is no concrete evidence that this is the case.”

Said Richter, “DCAS hired an expert for a big-dollar number. What was the purpose and what was it in response to? They are not giving out the reasons. That has led to a lot of speculation.”

Conry said he did not know whether anyone from the NYPD prompted the review. Asked whether Commissioner James O’Neill had signed off on it, Conry said, “I haven’t spoken to the commissioner, and I don’t intend to.”

He added that the department is “not in dire need” for new captains. There are fewer than 10 openings, Conry said. He pointed out that the average time for posting the exam’s results is a year. “We’re within the normal time,” he said.

DCAS spokeswoman Jacqueline Gold declined to say who decided the Morris & McDaniel contract.

In an email, she said that Morris & McDaniel’s work with the NYPD “is only one assignment covered by the $1,487,100 contract. The company develops several exams for DCAS per year. The contract does not specify examinations that Morris and McDaniel will develop but instead provides that the contracts will be identified on a need-by-need basis.”

David Morris of the Alexandria, Virginia, firm did not return phone calls to his office. Asked for the results from the current exam, Gold said, “We expect to publish the list sometime this summer.”

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to correct some details of the contract awarded to Morris & McDaniel. New York City entered into a new, three-year, $1,487,100 contract with a Virginia consultant to create, analyze and score Civil Service exams going forward.

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