Oracle In Hot Water In Oregon Over Allegations of Racketeering By The State’s Attorney General by Jon Hansen

Posted on September 16, 2014


Okay, right off the bat and as this should not come as a surprise to anyone who has read this blog over the years, I have never been a fan of Oracle.

In fact I think they are the poster child for everything that is, and has been, wrong with the ERP world for a long time.

Now that this is out of the way, was I surprised by the recent news that Oracle had run into a problem with Oregon regarding their management of the Cover Oregon Health Exchange?  No.

Lawsuits of this nature as referenced in my 2010 post, are nothing new.  Whether Oracle, Ariba, SAP or any of the other “big players” in the Enterprise world who do business based on the “let’s win the business first, and worry about making it work later” approach, have all run aground in terms of overarching initiatives.  One day I will have to tell you about my experiences with EDS whose team of professionals couldn’t figure out how to screw in a light-bulb without conducting a series of time consuming and costly meetings.

What is surprising however is why anyone with access to the Internet would engage these organizations in the first place.  It is tantamount to a gambler on a losing streak thinking that they will win it all back with just one more roll of the dice.

Take Oregon for example.

A number of years ago I was engaged by Multnomah County in Oregon to write what was at the time a confidential paper on SAP’s success in the public sector.  The reason for this somewhat clandestine request was based on the fact that the ERP vendor was putting a full court press on the County to use their public sector procurement solution.  Red flags had been raised when a meeting with King County who, after being presented has a “satisfied” client, suddenly and without clear reason cancelled the SAP facilitated session.  The goal of SAP of course was to use King County as a reference account in an effort to entice Multnomah County.  As part of my research I contacted King County. Not long afterwards I discovered that after 2 years and a considerable sum, King County had made the decision to abandon the SAP program.

My point here is quite simple . . . Multnomah avoided what is now happening with the State as well as countless others.  What prompted them to take a step back before taking the ERP plunge was tied to a number of factors including a gut instinct that something wasn’t quite right.  Based on this instinct, and despite external pressures to go the Nike route and just do it relative to signing on with SAP, they said no and in the process took ownership of their own destiny.  Can you imagine what would have happened if they had signed on with SAP based on a meeting with King County, only to discover 2 to 3 months later that the latter had dropped SAP after 2 years effort, because they could not get the initiative off the ground?

Kudos to King County for doing what was right and helping Multnomah avoid a similar fate.

This brings up back full circle to the present day lawsuits, and the charge by Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum that “Oracle’s conduct amounts to a pattern of racketeering activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars”.

Even though I can appreciate Oregon’s frustration on so many different levels, the following words immediately come to mind; qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.