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New York COVID vax tracking app ‘Excelsior Pass’ cost a fortune, report says

The Excelsior Pass, a first-of-its-kind app to streamline vaccine verification for New Yorkers, has seen its costs escalate from the initial $2.5 million to an astonishing $64 million, according to recent reports.


Originally pitched by ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a crucial tool for economic recovery amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the app’s development was outsourced to IBM. However, the expense to taxpayers rapidly escalated, noted first by the New York Times in June 2021 when the cost was reported as $17 million, later ballooning to $27 million, and finally reaching the current $64 million price tag.

The substantial payments to IBM, Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte, who were involved in the project, have raised questions about oversight, prompting a state inspector general’s investigation.

This scrutiny was brought on as the need for the app reduced with the pandemic’s decline, and the emergence of new concerns over defining vaccination “up-to-date” status. Despite the reduced usage, the state is still paying IBM $200,000 monthly for data storage related to the pass. State officials are exploring other potential uses for the app, seeking ways to simplify and streamline access to state services and benefits for New Yorkers.



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