New York State

State audit highlights lax oversight of IBM contract

The focus on IBM follows concerns about the company’s ties to ITS officials.

The IBM building in New York City.

The IBM building in New York City. Shutterstock

The office of New York state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found significant deficiencies in the Office of Information Technology Services’ monitoring of a $58 million contract, according to an audit released on Wednesday. 

The audit, first reported on by the Times Union, found that with a few exceptions, ITS has largely conducted adequate oversight of its IT contracts to ensure that the contractor or consultant was meeting deliverables. 

One of those exceptions was the contract for an IBM Service Desk, which was intended to provide services like password resets and a phone system for users seeking help. The audit found that ITS didn’t require IBM to submit summary reports with all the information required by the contract and eliminated an opportunity to reduce payments to IBM if certain deliverables weren’t met.

The focus on IBM follows other concerns about the company’s close ties to ITS officials – in particular, former state Chief Information Officer Robert Samson. Samson, who left the office last month, previously worked for IBM for 36 years. The Times Union reported that Samson met with IBM a dozen times during his tenure at ITS. 

A replacement for Samson has yet to be named, but in the meantime, Joseph J. Rabito, an alum of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, is filling in as interim CIO.