New York's $2.5M COVID 'Passport' Program Balloons to $17M...and Will Include More Than COVID

Brittany M. Hughes | June 9, 2021
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New York’s COVID passport system is set to cost taxpayers a stunning $17 million – far more than the expected cost.

Which, of course, is completely to be expected.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo first touted the “Excelsior Pass,” the first government-issued COVID vaccine passport app in the country, as an optional public tool with a $2.5 million price tag. For the crapload of money, the state government had hired IBM to create an app that provided “digital proof” of a person’s vaccination record and whether they’d been inoculated against COVID-19, or whether they’d recently gotten a negative test result for the virus. Businesses, government facilities and venues could then scan the pass on a person’s smartphone to determine whether they were permitted to once again go about their lives in peace.

Related: Florida Passes Bill To Fine Businesses For Requiring 'COVID Passports'

The “pass,” according to the New York website, is valid for 365 days at a time and is supposedly “voluntary” – at least, for now.

But what started out as a $2.5 million project has, not at all surprisingly, has morphed into a $17 million undertaking, according to documents obtained by the New York Times that show the state government always had “bigger plans” for the app than were previously disclosed to the public. For example, the government has allegedly made plans for at least 10 million people to download the app, which will be expanded in the future to include other personal data including health records and a digital driver’s license.

So far, the state’s contract with IBM runs a full three years. So far, 1 million New Yorkers have downloaded the app, which has reportedly been plagued with glitches since its rollout in late May.

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