Report: Oracle pushes back against Oregon officials over troubled health care site

A strongly worded letter from Oracle's co-president says Cover Oregon's woes are the state's fault

Oracle is gearing up for a fight with officials in Oregon over its role developing an expensive health insurance exchange website that still isn't fully operational.

Dubbed Cover Oregon, the site is connected with the Obama administration's sweeping health care overhaul and is similar to ones in other states as well as to the federal-level Healthcare.gov, which experienced high-profile performance problems of its own following its Oct. 1 launch.

Oregon officials have provided the public with a "false narrative" concerning who is to blame for Cover Oregon's woes, Oracle co-president Safra Catz said in a letter obtained by the Oregonian newspaper this week.

Oregon officials decided to act as their own systems integrator on the project, using Oracle consultants on a time-and-materials basis.

"This decision has been criticized frequently by many," Catz said in the letter sent to Cover Oregon officials, according to the Oregonian's report. As far as Oracle is concerned, "Cover Oregon lacked the skills, knowledge or ability to be successful as the systems integrator on an undertaking of this scope and complexity," she added.

Oracle also repeatedly warned officials that the website wouldn't be ready by the Oct. 1 launch date, according to Catz. The state's current effort to deflect responsibility by claiming that Oracle failed to communicate the status of the project is demonstrably false," she wrote.

Cover Oregon's problems have resulted in a political firestorm and prompted the removal of a number of officials. Oregon is severing ties with Oracle and also withholding $25.6 million of some $69.5 million in payments the vendor says it is still owed.

The state is also reserving its right to sue Oracle. Based on the tone of Catz's letter, Oracle would likely put up a vigorous defense and possibly pursue counterclaims against Oregon.

In a letter sent in response to Catz and obtained by the Associated Press, acting Cover Oregon director Clyde Hamstreet said he wasn't able to immediately address Oracle's positions.

A recently released investigative report by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Cover Oregon, as well as an independent review commissioned by Gov. John Kitzhaber took both state officials and Oracle to task for the site's woes.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment on Thursday regarding Catz's letter.

It's somewhat unusual for a software vendor to make such aggressive statements against a customer prior to a lawsuit, compared to the bland verbiage commonly used, said analyst Michael Krigsman, CEO of consulting firm Asuret and an expert on IT project failures. "Historically when these things happen, the software vendor has basically said: 'we're committed to the success of this project as we are all projects.'"

The fact that both Oracle and Cover Oregon can make such strong claims against each other "demonstrates how commingled the responsibilities are on this type of project," Krigsman added. "And also, we're talking about communication. The success of communication often lies in the perceptions of the receiver and giver. Oracle can complain it's demonstrably wrong to say they did not communicate properly, and the other side say the same thing, and from their perceptions they're both right."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuesserviceslegalsoftwarehealth careSafra CatzIT managementindustry verticalsOracle

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?