Great Moments In Privatization—The Multi-Million Dollar Fire Exam
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From the New York Daily News on the next phase in Vulcan Society v. Fire Department of New York disparate impact discrimination lawsuit:

The controversial upcoming FDNY [Fire Department New York] exam will be the most expensive test in the city's history, the Daily News has learned. 
The new civil service test, ordered by a Brooklyn federal judge who declared that previous FDNY exams discriminated against minorities, is expected to cost the city more than $3.3 million to develop and administer, officials said. 
The cost of the previous Fire Department exam, given in 2007, was $1.3 million, according to officials at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. 
The huge jump in cost hasn't sat well in City Hall. "This litigation has forced some very costly mandates on the city for the development and administration of the test," said Julie Wood, spokeswoman for Mayor Bloomberg. "We have to pay for them." 
Judge Nicholas Garaufis last year demanded that the city alter its method of recruiting firefighters and blocked the FDNY - which is 91% white - from hiring any candidates until a new test was created. The judge also mandated that the new test be created by an outside developer, instead of within DCAS - the agency that normally creates the city's exams. 
The city hired California-based PSI Services to develop and give the test, which is expected to be given in the first few months of 2012. 
The requirement to hire an expensive outside consultant has sent costs soaring, City Hall insiders grumbled.
This is the golden age of for-profit psychometrics. A big driving force is the following logic:
  • We are unsatisfied with the disparate impact of the current test.
  • Since, as everyone knows, it's racist to say that there is anything unsatisfactory about minority test-takers, therefore the test must be unsatisfactory.
  • Ergo, we should hire an expensive psychometric consulting firm on a cost-plus contract to finally design a non-discriminatory test from scratch that won't have disparate impact. Obviously, the only possible reason that none of the countless tests already created eliminated disparate impact is that they weren't trying hard enough. So, if we have to spend an extra million or two million dollars to get the Platinum Premium custom-designed test that will finally overcome disparate impact, then it's well worth it. (Subsidiary logic: Pay no attention to results in other cities during the last several decades. Otherwise, you might learning something, and learning is racist. If you do ever let yourself notice that everybody else has failed at what you plan to do, reassure yourself that the reason all these other cities have failed to find the holy grail of the fire department test without disparate impact is because they were not as pure of heart as you are.)
Lather, rinse, and repeat ad infinitum. Hey, it's a living for testing firms.
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