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Oracle Businesses Government Medicine The Almighty Buck The Courts

Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website 212

Posted by timothy
from the finest-consultants-in-the-land dept.
SpzToid (869795) writes The state of Oregon sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives Friday, accusing the software giant of fraud for failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program. The 126-page lawsuit claims Oracle has committed fraud, lies, and "a pattern of activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars". "Not only were Oracle's claims lies, Oracle's work was abysmal", the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said. "Today's lawsuit clearly explains how egregiously Oracle has disserved Oregonians and our state agencies", said Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum in a written statement. "Over the course of our investigation, it became abundantly clear that Oracle repeatedly lied and defrauded the state. Through this legal action, we intend to make our state whole and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag."

Oregon's suit alleges that Oracle, the largest tech contractor working on the website, falsely convinced officials to buy "hundreds of millions of dollars of Oracle products and services that failed to perform as promised." It is seeking $200 million in damages. Oracle issued a statement saying the suit "is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project."
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Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

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  • Lawsuits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @12:35PM (#47737173)

    I have no doubt at all that Oracle committed fraud and lied a lot. I have no doubt Oregon's project management failed to give adequate oversight to the project, failed to adequately specify the project, and repeatedly changed what little specification they provided.

    Neither matters. I have no doubt this lawsuit will ultimately fail, because the Oregon attorney general doesn't have the technical ability to prove the fraud and lies. The state has already proven they don't understand what they're doing. We're about to get a second demonstration.

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @12:59PM (#47737327)

    I'm starting to think that State, Provincial, Reigonal, Local and Federal governments should Purchase Technologies from companies, and then hire their own Salaried Engineers to actually handle the operations. Stop creating these service contracts and don't let this nonsense go on.

  • by Munchr (786041) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:02PM (#47737343)
    I have no love for Oracle, but the blame cannot be placed at their feet. As has been reported in local Oregon and nationwide news, Oracle insisted Oregon hire a project manager and systems integrator, either because the contract did not permit Oracle to fulfill those roles or Oracle was not capable of performing those roles. Oregon refused those requests, despite many warnings from Oracle and Cover Oregon's own director that without such services the site would not be ready to go live. Instead, Oregon placed a gag order on everyone involved in the project to hide the problems from the public. This is very much a problem caused by Oregon, not by any willful fraud by Oracle. This is also SOP for Oregon Government, with just about any project they undertake. (Full disclosure, I am one of many pissed off Oregonians.)
  • by kybred (795293) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:03PM (#47737351)

    Here's a success [medicalnews.md] story about Kentucky's Kynect Exchange.

    They need not have worried. Over the past year, Kentucky’s health care website has proved to be a huge success. More than a half-million Kentucky residents have signed up for the Bluegrass State’s version of Obamacare. A majority of Kentuckians approve of it. That this has happened in a deeply red state is unexpected but hardly an accident.

  • Good answer: "... the Oregon attorney general doesn't have the technical ability to prove the fraud and lies. The state has already proven they don't understand what they're doing."

    Also, Oracle has been through this perhaps thousands of times. Apparently the major profit center for companies like Oracle is being late and more expensive than predicted. For example, see this quote from the book, Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment [google.com]:

    "... a recent General Accounting Office report on U.S. military equipment procurement concluded that only 1% of major military purchases involving high technology were delivered on time and on budget."

    That book says the problem is due to a sociological mistake. My understanding is that it is entirely intended, a way of making money from the largely hidden military purchases of the U.S. government. For the U.S. government, killing people is an enormous, extremely profitable business.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:25PM (#47737463)
    I dare Oracle to audit just exactly who worked on this project - how many H1-B's at Oracle and foreign outsourcing.insourcing was done (probably, to India). I will bet hard $$$ that a majority of the work for Oregon was done this way. What I have seen over and over again is more and more H1-B garbage code put into BASIC infrastructure projects. Oracle and other companies walk away with profit, and we're left holding a bag of garbage.
  • Re:Oracle sucks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by umdesch4 (3036737) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:26PM (#47737473)
    I'm not a PhD level database guru, but my career has been almost entirely working with databases over the last 20 years. I can say that the underlying technology of the Oracle RDBMS itself is light years beyond other systems. I'm not an advocate of anything Oracle has done in other arenas over the last 10-15 years, but I experience an existential crisis every day in my job where I love working within an Oracle database, but hate pretty much everything about the company that owns it.
  • An Oregonian (Score:4, Interesting)

    by meerling (1487879) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @02:04PM (#47737625)
    I'm an Oregonian, and there has been very little information about what actually happened other than the corporate/govenment spin weasels point fingers and whining about the other guy.

    To be honest, our state can certainly screw up just like all the rest and on various levels. Just google Dynamite Whale for one example.
    On the other hand, my experiences with Oracle and what I've heard from other people that had to deal with them, are far less than stellar.

    Right now I'm betting some politician made some stupid mistakes that Oracle didn't bother to even attempt to correct because all they could see was $$. Which of course was compounded by Oracle then going on in a slipshod milk the government cash cow way. The end result being this F-N mess.

    How to recover from this? Honestly, I don't really know, especially because we haven't been told what the exact problems are with the system. Sure, we've been told lots of the symptoms, but not the actual problems. (The difference between someone saying my car makes this "kchunk-wnnnng noise", vs "my car's timing belt is slipping".)
    One suggestion that might be necessary is to throw out the old code, and go talk to someone with a good working version and license that one for a reasonable fee then rebrand and localize it. (Maybe Kentucky's version.) And no, a reasonable fee isn't what they paid for it if it's something they had developed. Maybe there are other states with lousy versions, and they could all license a good working version. It would sure as hell simplify things going forward for all of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2014 @05:26PM (#47738791)

    I'll "third" it. My wife needed to use Kynect when I retired. At first there were several bumps. Eventually she was put into contact with a "manager" who looked at the system output for her case, said "nope, not your fault, that looks like a system error", and promptly while my wife was on the telephone with her, over-rode the system to correct it. Things have been fine since.

    I suspect Kentucky isn't rich or pretentious enough to try to do everything Oregon might. For development work, it's not a bad mindset.

  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @05:37PM (#47738863) Homepage

    How about colchicine? It cost about $8/month. Then, one company did a million dollar study, generally considered to have contributed nothing to medical knowledge, and so got temporary exclusivity from the FDA and suddenly it costs $450 for the same thing.

    The $1 cost BTW was already covering the factory, employees, etc. The rest is gravy and marketing.

    Much of the research is taken care of by universities operating under a federal grant. By all rights, that research belongs to the people already.

    Based on the immensity of the pharmaceutical companies, they aren't exactly losing money.

  • Re:Reputation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @06:34PM (#47739145) Journal

    This is what happens when a customer doesn't want to own the system they are buying. Like a lot of places they probably had MBAs at the top who took the whole "not our core competency" thing too far. Yet again. Sure hire a vendor or vendors. But Own The Fucking System. Don't just let the vendors do what they want. It is a licence to push out shit with no oversight. I don't know for certain that this was the case here but that would be my guess.

    Oracle was hired to implement the system and are of course software vendors. Even if it would mean fitting a square peg to a round hole, they'll try to use an all Oracle solution. This was a big enough project that the project management and architecture teams could have been separate from the software vendors. They almost always should be. Them and systems analysts should have been able to keep things in line if it wasn't all run by Oracle. If the implementation team was independent, I think it more likely they would use the right tools for the job. Blame the PHBs in Oregon for hiring Oracle. This should serve as a cautionary tale (which of course will be ignored).

  • Re:Reputation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @06:43PM (#47739203)
    In 2001, I was Avaya's first order on SAP (or so I was told at the time). After delivering the wrong thing 3 times, a tech drove to the depot, and physically selected the correct thing, and hand carried it to the site to install. After the install, relatively easy, once the correct thing was there, the bill was wrong. Eventually, they billed us for $12k for a $110k project (after I sent back the first 4 or so bills for obvious errors). So I paid the $12k, and got the "paid in full" response. Never heard anything to indicate they ever found their error.

    I've had multiple people tell me it's unethical to deliberately under-pay, but after months of trying to get a correct bill, should I go to collections over a wrong bill or pay one "in full" to stop the harassment of a billing department that can't get the right numbers?

    About 5 years later, I heard is was still wrong more than right, though it did get better. It seemed like it would be difficult to get something so wrong. All the wrong parts showed up. Repeatedly. I saw the "order" and the delivery, and there weren't even the same number of items there, so it wasn't a part number mix up.
  • Re:It's a complot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @06:57PM (#47739293)
    It's horrible sub-standard health care, but still better than what came before.

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