Full tab for troubled billing system was $162 million, DWP confirms

DWP union leader Brian D’Arcy
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power union leader Brian D’Arcy.
(Bob Chamberlain, Los Angeles Times)

The full price tag for developing and rolling out a new Department of Water and Power billing system riddled with problems is more than twice the $59 million cited by the utility in recent days, a spokesman acknowledged.

The total cost of staff time, contractors and software for the troubled system, which has been met by a storm of public complaints, is $162 million, said Joe Ramallo, a DWP spokesman.

About $63.1 million of that was labor costs for DWP employees who were diverted from their normal duties to help rollout the program, he said. Another $98.9 million was spent on vendors, software, add-on programs and equipment needed to pull data from 50 different sources into one unified system, he said.

The fuller accounting came hours after the leader of the DWP’s largest union slammed Mayor Eric Garcetti and the utility’s brass for launching the new system, which has been plagued by inaccurate bills and long waits for help on the utility’s customer service line.


Brian D’Arcy, head of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, also accused the mayor and his DWP managers of trying to hide the full costs of the malfunctioning system. Some customers are waiting an hour on the phone to try and sort out billing errors and protest service cancellation notices but “still aren’t getting answers,” he said.

Ramallo said the department didn’t intend to mislead city officials or the public by initially citing the $59-million implementation figure. That was the cost of the contract with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the prime contractor and systems integrator, he said.

 “There are other costs that are part of the total project,’’ he said. “All of these amounts have been on board agendas, were approved by boards and were approved by the council,’’ he said.

The agency doesn’t think outlays for its employees who worked on the project should be included in the cost calculation, Ramallo said.


D’Arcy blamed Garcetti, DWP Commission President Mel Levine and DWP General Manager Ron Nichols for the problems, saying all three owe ratepayers an apology.

The union and its affiliates spent $2 million supporting Garcetti’s opponent in this year’s mayor’s race, former City Controller Wendy Greuel. Recently, D’Arcy has been locked in a battle with Garcetti and DWP commissioners over the release of financial records showing how millions in ratepayer money provided to two nonprofit trusts has been spent. 


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