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MD Anderson puts IBM Watson project on hold

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | February 20, 2017
Health IT Rad Oncology
Famed University of Texas cancer center MD Anderson is putting its partnership with IBM Watson on hold for now. The reason for the break is being attributed to the business arrangement of the deal — not anything pertaining to the IBM technology itself.

The $62.1 million “Oncology Expert Advisor" (OEA) project is officially on hold after a UT audit of the project determined that “certain aspects of procurement and contract management for the OEA project were not handled in accordance with established policies and procedures.”

The project was shut down in September, 2016.

This news broke just as IBM chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty was about to be the opening keynote speaker at HIMSS17.

The project was stopped, an MD Anderson spokesperson told Forbes, because, “as a public institution, we decided to go out to the marketplace for competitive bids to see where the industry has progressed.”

The UT report determined that there were a number of problems with the project, including:

  • Of the six noncompetitive procurements reviewed, with contract fees totaling $51.4 million, two were not formally justified and approved as exclusive noncompetitive acquisitions. The total value of those two contracts is approximately $41.7 million.

  • One contract amendment was not correctly executed, and one change order was not signed by an authorized party.

  • The OEA project was not approved through established Information Technology (IT) Governance and did not follow required IT Governance processes.

  • Work performed under an amended scope of work extended beyond the OEA project and intent of funding, as approved by the Board of Regents of the UT System (Board).

  • Invoices were paid in full, regardless of whether contracted services were delivered as agreed upon, and invoice review and approval to process payment to the vendor were not consistently documented as evidence that invoiced services and deliverables were both received and acceptable.

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