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The Courts Oracle

Ex-Head of Troubled Health Insurance Site May Sue, Citing 'Cover-Up' 162

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the doomed-from-the-beginning dept.
itwbennett writes "Carolyn Lawson, the former CIO for Oregon's troubled health care insurance website, is alleging that state officials engaged in a 'substantial cover-up' meant to deflect blame away from themselves and onto herself and the project's contractor, Oracle. Lawson, who was forced to resign in December, this week filed a tort claim notice, which is a required precursor to filing a lawsuit against the state." Claims are made that the state was the typical bad client, refusing to articulate "business requirements" effectively and repeatedly increasing the scope of the project. But then again Oracle was involved.
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Ex-Head of Troubled Health Insurance Site May Sue, Citing 'Cover-Up'

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  • Government contracts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @10:52AM (#46524201)

    Everyone knows the first thing you do in a government contract situation is document what you did so you can cover your ass later. I can't wait to see what dirt she has on Oracle sandbagging Oregon.

    • by Sarius64 (880298)
      Change you can count on!
    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      The very first thing I was taught by my mentor back in '02 was to create a CYA file for every project or job I work on. No verbal requests, so everything has to be submitted in writing. After a meeting where project details are discussed, for example, send a "recap" email to everyone involved.

      It's not just for government contracts either. Do it with everything.

      • That's not just CYA, that's communicating.

        It's better to do it *in the meeting*, where once you get it down where everyone can see it simultaneously, you can find out if they really agree, and correct it on the spot if they don't.

        Hint - no group over 1 person ever agrees the first time it is written down.

  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @10:54AM (#46524215)

    How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell [theoatmeal.com] - The Oatmeal.

  • I think a Bayesian analisys is in order here.

    Basically the prior probability of Oracle delivering crap and screwing up a contract while collecting a vast fee approaches one, let's say P(oracale == shit) = 0.99999.

    Given that prior, we really need overwhelming evidence in favour of Oracle before I'll believe it wasn't their fault. Actually I think 0.99999 is rather generous. That means they've probably delivered at least one system which didn't utterly fuck over a customer. That seems like a really dubious c

    • by afidel (530433)

      Meh, we've got a lot of Oracle software in house (JD Edwards, Hyperion, OBIEE, Oracle DB) and it all works fairly well. We've had two duds from Oracle as well, Oracle VM was complete crap (we were only running it because of their ridiculous licensing for OBIEE) and the application we received based on BPEL was a completely unmaintainable turd, but that could have been the third party group that designed and built the application (though we found plenty of faults with base BPEL functionality so we lay the bl

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Most of that stuff are things that Oracle bought. They weren't produced by the Oracle hive mind, they were produced somewhere else. They aren't Oracle products really.

        The core RDBMS is solid but things quickly degenerate once you get much beyond that.

    • Oracle is by far and away the worst company I've ever had the displeasure of working with. Yesterday their support told me they didn't know what a "POP Email account" was and they didn't think that was supported in their product. When I forwarded them a link to a search of their support site on "POP Email account" showing dozens of articles they said they'd to escalate my ticket to the "next tier" for further investigation.

      Yes, Oracle, who we pay MILLIONS of dollars a year to for our support contract has ev

      • by Bartles (1198017)
        Then why do you work with them? And more to the point, why did Oregon hire such a shitty company to work on a mission critical product? Who's fault is this, really?
        • Then why do you work with them? And more to the point, why did Oregon hire such a shitty company to work on a mission critical product? Who's fault is this, really?

          As was stated elsewhere, because no one else successfully bid for the project.

          There's plenty of blame to go around when Oracle was the only company unscrupulous enough to pretend they could honor the requirements of the contract.

    • by Bartles (1198017)
      That's ridiculous. If it's widely known that Oracle has a %99.999 chance of screwing a project up, it's the fault of the people that hired them and expected to get a functional product. I'd bet that it's Oregon's fault for picking Oracle considering I have not seen one person on this discussion praise Oracle.
    • I used to have to reboot servers all over the country once a day thanks to Oracle memory leaks. fkrs..
  • Oracle was involved. Need we go any further?!
  • Obviously, some projects are impossible and some clients just can't be helped. I'm certainly not rushing to judge Ms. Lawson, because I've had my fair share of those.

    But ... usually, the blame can be laid at the feet of the project leader (I'd guess, in this case, the CIO). Managing expectations, dealing with a changing business landscape, keeping everyone focused on your vision and strategy ... those are all responsibilities of the project leader.

    How often do we have to hear stories like this? Doesn't a

  • I've read that the Governor is heavily failed to be re-elected. Why is this true given the clearly bad job his administration did here?
    • by glennrrr (592457)
      typo meant "heavily favored"
    • It's certainly not limited to Oregon, it's a politics thing at all levels of federal, state and local government. Correlation != causation. Many political shysters continue to be (re-)elected regardless of their poor performance or qualifications.
    • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @11:44AM (#46524641)

      This is just one issue. People aren't happy about this, but most people are satisfied with what he's done in general.

      Also, the blame has stayed further down the org chart.

      Also, the republican party in (statewide) Oregon is a mess (I think it's been several years since a republican was elected for a statewide office). Oregonians tend to be liberal or libertarian on social issues, and the republican party here has trouble figuring out it's identity.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      A website is a single relatively minor issue.
      • My impression is that this minor issue cost two hundred million dollars, and prevented anybody from signing up for insurance (as in 0 enrollments) for 5+ months. It also did it in the most public possible way, with a credible case for the Governor not telling the truth about what he knew and when. But I'm not from Oregon and this might only be a false impression. Perhaps someone who's followed this closely can fill in the details.
        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          It also did it in the most public possible way,

          We suffered through several months prior to the 1 Oct turn-on date of really banal advertising for Cover Oregon with really happy warm-fuzzy music and feel-good slogans about "long live Oregonians", in ads that didn't really ever say what Cover Oregon was. They were just spending development money pre-loading good feelings and kind thoughts into the public consciousness.

          The Cover Oregon management created an expectation that they knew couldn't be met -- it was announced ahead of time that the "buy insuran

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        A website is a single relatively minor issue.

        A website where people who either have no health insurance to start with, or have lost their coverage because the government has regulated the plans they can afford and/or like out of existence, go to meet the government deadline for getting insurance so they can cover their families and themselves and avoid paying a tax on top of hefty co-pays, which has no way of signing up for said insurance, is a pretty major issue for many people.

        It was a major enough issue that the laws creating the system had to b

        • by dlt074 (548126)

          be careful with those valid concerns. you may get labeled a racist, or worse yet, a "climate change" denier!

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Is that true? You can only buy insurance through the government website and can't just get it straight from the insurance company like before?
          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            If you can just buy it straight from the company, why is the government spending tax money making websites to sell it? The companies who are profiting from this should make the websites, then. Yes, I'm sure you can still get private plans, but are they at the same allegedly low rates as the ACA plans? Isn't the problem the ACA tries to solve the lack of affordable private plans to start with?
            • by hendrips (2722525)

              You can buy insurance directly from insurers' websites. My small office lost coverage when the ACA kicked in, and several of us signed up for individual plans through the Blue Cross website. It was quick and easy - maybe five minutes. The exchange website, on the other hand, just shat itself halfway through the application process every time I tried it. The only reason to use the government website is to get the subsidy, which I wouldn't have qualified for. Plans are priced identically on both sites, d

          • I believe, unless there is yet another rule change on this, that those seeking subsidies have to go through the exchange.
  • by roc97007 (608802)

    This just gets more and more entertaining.

  • by Guppy06 (410832)

    Claims are made that the state was the typical bad client

    And yet it's only after you sign the contract that you think to get a lawyer involved.

  • They'll twist their disaster into a tort victory.
  • Is that if she has a paper trail showing specific government employees kept screwing the pooch that she likely cannot hit them personally such that they lose their shirts in the lawsuit. It shouldn't be primarily the tax payers who foot the bill, it should be the senior government executives who kept messing up. And if their federal counterparts' compensation is any indication, those responsible here have more than enough salary to be expected to foot the bill here for their malfeasance.

  • I can pretty much believe it..
    In the Govenmental areas, there are so many people that are used to being able to say "Yes, but wouldn't it be a great idea if...".. And when they're told no, it's not possible in the current scope, they bring in all kinds of political manoeuvers to make life extremely difficult unless it gets added (and these manoeuvers can extend time drastically). So, more gets added that they should have identified initially. Or it can be a 'clarification'. "Oh, we meant this.. In this c

  • by linuxguy (98493) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @01:04PM (#46525313) Homepage

    I live in Oregon. I have been trying to buy health insurance for myself and my family of 4. Because of my income, I am ineligible for any subsidies. My case is a very simple one. I am paying full price for a health insurance plan. However I cannot register on the damn website or buy insurance. The only way for me to register an account on the website is by mailing in a paper application. I have done that. They called me to confirm that they have received the application and are processing it. They have hired 500 people to process paper applications. These people have yet to enter my paper application into the computer.

    How did Oracle receive $130 million for developing this website when I cannot even register a damn account on this website, much less select and buy insurance?

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @01:21PM (#46525433)
    So Oracle + government + morons in charge causing scope creep + IT contractors. That's a recipe for a category 5 shitstorm.
  • by linuxguy (98493) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @01:26PM (#46525467) Homepage

    Several whistle-blowers came forward and said that this lady, Carolyn Lawson, was "abusing and misusing state resources". Oregon's OHA director Bruce Goldberg thought that these were personality conflicts.

    Also, she was accused of and investigated for mismanaging contracts when she worked for the state of California. In one instance she tried to award a no-bid contract to her previous boss.

    I don't think she has a leg to stand on.

  • ...when a scapegoat doesn't understand its role.

  • I'm not really taking Oracle's side on this but having worked on a lot of Government (Local, State, Federal) projects over the years I have seen this sort of thing happen time and time again.

    The first problem you encounter is that, almost without exception, government projects are fixed bid rather than time and materials. The procurement system requires them to do it that way. Fixed bid projects can be successful - but only if you tightly control scope and expectations. And in my experience, scope creep is

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Problem number three - the customer sometimes doesn't know what they want.

      Rule one - the customer NEVER knows what they want. I don't work on government contracts, but it is certainly true in private industry.

      They wouldn't call it requirements "elicitation" if it were just a matter of writing them down...

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