Southern Brooklyn

Stringer: Pothole Complaints To 311 Are Disappearing!

This garbage can-sized sinkhole on Hubbard Street was ignored for nearly six months, despite numerous complaints to 311, until Sheepshead Bites posted it last year.

Potholes. Freakin’ potholes.

Pedestrians don’t like them because they can cause trips. Drivers don’t like them because they can damage cars. The city doesn’t like them because they have to fix them.

Oh, wait, apparently, the city doesn’t have to worry about them. Because they never have to hear the complaints. Because they simply vanish from the 311 system.

One of the most common complaints to 311 is a pothole service request. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has issued the results of an investigation conducted by his office into the efficiency of 311, logging 280 specific pothole complaints around the borough. Nearly half of those – 134 – were made using 311’s online complaint form. Stringer’s office then followed up on the complaints by making calls and inquiring to the status, using the service request reference numbers given at the time of complaint.

Shockingly, every single one of the online complaints vanished from the system, along with nine percent of the phone complaints.

“It would appear that online 311 pothole complaints are, in fact, falling into a black hole,” Stringer said. “The fact that these complaints are being lost raises questions about what other types of calls may be falling through the cracks.”

The Manhattan beep says the vanishing act is raising serious questions about the service’s integrity, and of the contractor’s accountability. When pressing a 311 agent over the phone, the agent disclosed to Stringer’s office that disappearing complaints is one of several ongoing issues with the online system.

To help address constituents’ concerns, Stringer has issued a letter to the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) to provide additional information about problems the service faces, the service tracking protocol, and remedial measures to fix the problem. Stringer has also made a Freedom of Information Law request to the department for copies of contracts with the company overseeing the service, named Accenture, which his office will review for potential improprieties.

“I think the situation raises additional concerns about the level of oversight that DoITT is providing over Accenture and other outside contractors responsible for maintaining and expanding the 311 system. The Accenture contracts, in particular, appear to have grown significantly over the last five years, based on the limited information that is publicly available,” he wrote in his letter to DoITT. “In many ways, the system has succeeded admirably, fielding more than 122 million calls since its inception in 2003. But taxpayers deserve to know that contractors charged with maintaining and improving the system are held accountable.”

Comment policy


  1. Lets start to vote people out of our political seats that let shit like this happen. fuck this shitty system. cant wait till china invades us, at least they get shit done!

  2. HOLE-Y COW!! I for one can HOLE heartedly believe that the HOLE 311 system blows.  I think that the HOLE thing should be revamped along with A HOLE new staff and a HOLE lot of ideas.

    god that was annoying.

  3. I wrote several times that there was something fishy about 311. I got suspicious when my complaint last year was altered by some higher ups and then was closed out when nothing was solved.  I had to resubmit it several times.  They finally turned it over to the agency and had them contact me so they could close it out.  I wouldn’t believe any 311 statistics.

  4. They said on the news that on line 311 complaints went directly to the Sanitation Department. Sanitation says every one they received has been repaired.
    So where is the link that was left hanging? Something in the program is missing.

  5. Guess you meant “Transportation” not “Sanitation” unless everyone is complaining about dirty potholes.

  6. I sit corrected. The article made me start looking for a complaint # I
    called in over 2 months ago about the 3 plastic drums on E 17 St. I biked
    past today and they are still there . Someone had dated them May 7th. Maybe
    if I call 311 they will be able to run my phone #.
    This was a Sanitation Dept. complaint. LOL

  7. 311 never puts your complaint through. When there was a fire back on our street in December, 311 said that they had only 3 complaints against the house, which was a lie, because I put in more than 3 calls, and my neighbors were complaining non stop.

  8. Technically, yes, they can be anonymous. I choose to leave my name, cell
    and e-mail. I do get confirmations. A person can request to remain


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here