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The Almighty Buck

California + Oracle = $95 Million Fiasco 531

bahtama writes: "The Sacramento Bee is reporting that California apparently signed an agreement to purchase 95 million dollars worth of Oracle software that they really didn't need and that will not save them as much money as promised. They apparently purchased 270,000 licenses, which is more than all the state workers, including prison guards and others who would never need it." How do you think Oracle would treat the whole country?
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California + Oracle = $95 Million Fiasco

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  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:11PM (#3359770)
    No way. When did this start?
    • by zapfie ( 560589 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:17PM (#3359828)
      Are you saying we should just be complacent about it? Yeah, it happens all the time, but that doesn't mean we should get used to it.
      • No he's being humourous - as in "ha.. ha.. I haven't laughed this hard in ages."
      • And it will keep happening as long as you give them your money. The only way to stop it is to severely curtail the amount of money that your government has to work with.
        • And then don't complain when your civil services go to hell (police response, road conditions, school quality)

          Don't get me wrong, these aren't perfect now, but all reducing the money does is choke off the wrong parts of government.
          • This is where you have to draw the line between Federal and State services, and have itemized public budgets that citizens can always look at. If the Federal government has less money to work with, and decides to cut funding to schools and not mention it, then they may get away with it. But if they have to publicize an itemized budget detailing where all of the money goes then the citizens can DEMAND that they take a billion or so dollars and move them from Defense Spending to Education spending. The states should do the same. In fact, I think there should always be a 30 day period of citizen feedback on the state and federal budgets.

            Kintanon
          • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @02:07PM (#3360225) Homepage Journal
            And then don't complain when your civil services go to hell (police response, road conditions, school quality)

            Are you saying the only way to have enough adequate funding for police is to have so much spare cash that Davis will mispend it on Oracle licenses?

            I say tax the people only enough to support the essential services, and force Davis to pay for his own team of lawyers.
            • I say tax the people only enough to support the essential services,
              And I'm saying cutting the money won't ensure that. JUST Cut the money and the GOOD parts of the government are going to suffer as much or more as the BAD parts of government.
        • I don't live in the US but from what I see of that country's government (and others) is that people have the power to elect an official. However, it is the lobbiests (read Mega-Corps) that have the power to influence these officials.
    • Anyone in California knows that Davis is a master fundraiser - he probably spends more time raising campaign money than he does governing the state.

      Does anyone know how much Gov. Davis got in campaign contributions from Larry Ellison and/or Oracle employees?

      Then again, given Gov. Davis's views on whose money it is [latimes.com], the $95M in wasted funds doesn't surprise me even if Oracle isn't a big campaign donor.

  • So that's where my tax dollars are going!

    This is the third year in a row that I got a refund from my Federal taxes, but I had to pay out to the state. I guess now I know why.

    • by Darth Maul ( 19860 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:37PM (#3359977) Homepage
      I think it's funny the mindset the gov't has gotten us into. If we get a refund, we think we're getting money from the gov't. If we have to pay, we think it's so unfair we're having to pay the gov't.

      Fact of the matter is, you pay both ways. Just in the former case you overpaid (free loan to the gov't), and in the latter case you didn't pay enough (not a free loan though, you may get penalized).

      Automatic payroll deduction is one of the nastiest tricks the over-sized government has pulled on us! If we actually had to write out checks each year for the full amount we're *actually* paying, the government realizes there would be a tax revolt that very year. But take out a little each check, and no problem.

      What's that example with the frog? ;-)

      • For the record, I never said that I had some illusion that the money I get refunded is somehow a gift. What I thought was funny (though not terribly unexpected) was that for three years in a row I've had to pay more, proportionally, than the state had thought I would have to.

        Don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining about taxes, I was just making a joke. I consider the entire socio-religio-commercial-political-system of this world to be an (un-)necessary evil which I fully expect to be done away with, the sooner the better.

      • by Geek In Training ( 12075 ) <cb398@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @02:19PM (#3360358) Homepage
        If we actually had to write out checks each year for the full amount we're *actually* paying, the government realizes there would be a tax revolt that very year. But take out a little each check, and no problem.

        When you fill out your 1040, it's BLATANTLY OBVIOUS how much you've paid.

        For example, an MD friend of mine paid over 100,000 US Dollars in federal income taxes this year. Plus about $30,000 in property taxes, state and local income taxes.

        I don't know much about his spending habits, but let's say he put $20,000 in the bank, and spent his remaining $150,000 on taxable goods and services. That means he also paid $10,500 in sales tax in his county. (In this case, he has no car or mortgage payments.)

        So at the end of the year, he's paid almost a full half of his income to "the government." That is not American, my friends, that sounds like something the damn socialist frenchies and poppycockers overseas would do. (I love you guys, but your taxes suck even worse than ours. But not much.)

        So when my wife's co-workers quit their jobs to raise babies (five of them in the past 18 months) and get public assistance in medical benefits, food, income, subsidized housing, etc... they tell us "The Government is taking care of me! It is great!" (My sister has also done this, twice.)

        Bullshit. My father and I are paying for you to sit on your ass and watch Oprah and smoke Menthol Lights next to your newborn. And to get medical care. And to buy orange juice with food stamps so you can save your baby shower money for important stuff... like another carton of Menthols. These idiots think the government just "makes" the money... the clue train never bothers making a stop between their ears.

        Sorry to be such a 20-something curmudgeon. Obviously not all people on public assistance are like this; just most of them. Get knocked up by your cousin's boyfriend and skate it out from there. No marriage, no commitment, no work, no worries. And they are OK with it, because the government is taking care of them. And you and I are paying for it. Yes we need social services, but we have bred an entire generation or subculture of people who can now live by the hard work of others who make btter decisions and handle the consequences to their actions without whining.

        If you're in the US, and haven't had the pleasure of dealing with people like this yet, take a couple trips to WalMart at 2:00pm and see if you can apply this tale to the runny-nosed crotch-fruit being dragged around by some "poor, bedraggled" mommy. She has a vacant look on her face, you know why? She doesn't have to care anymore. About anything.

        Except how to afford that next box of Menthols.

      • Re:tax withholding (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cnoocy ( 452211 )
        You know, perhaps it's a good thing that we have a government that provides services and doesn't have to levy troops to put down a freaking tax revolt every April. Go ahead and complain about how high taxes are, but do you think you'd be reading /. right now if ARPA had never existed? The government does use our money in worthwile ways that would never occur to us individually.
      • You poor suffering peasant. I hate to fight flame with flame, but y'all are in the wrong industry to be complaining about government handouts, and I'm in too crappy a mood to listen to puerile nerds complain about how hard it is for them when they have to pay some taxes for the plush infrastructure that lets them run servers in the houses on dirt-cheap gummint electricity. (Of course if you pointed out that a self-righteous answer to an ignorant self-righteous rant is somehwere self-defeating, I'd be obliged to concede the wisdom of this, but a little reply-ranting feels good, as we well know here. On with the show).

        It's time for some Q&A.Let's start with familiar /. lore.
        Q. Who invented the Internet?
        A. The US federal gummint (DARPA)
        Q. On whose dime?
        A. The US taxpayers'
        Q. What industry occupies the largest portion of the US federal government's trillions of dollars in expenditures?
        A. Defense. 35% in 2001. Welfare and other means-tested entitlments were 6%.
        Q. What has the US Dept. of Defense been focusing on since the end of the Cold War? A. Technology - computerized planes, satellites, drones, tanks, etc. Read any Afghanistan story in the Washington Post [washingtpost.com] or New York Times [nytimes.com], or any other major newspaper, and you will hear nothing but raves about our high-tech military.
        Q. And who does that money employ?
        A. Engineers, technologists, programmers.
        Q. What do they make on average?
        A. A starting salary of $60K, if not more [znet.com]

        Q. Wow, Eric, sounds like the geeks get the most welfare of all! Why do you think they complain so much?
        A. (stumped)

        And don't even dare to complain how hard it is to figure out what the government spends - it took me 6 seconds to find the US budget [gpo.gov]. Whew!

        • Well, it certainly looked informative. I found the numbers a bit interesting and followed your link. On page 379 (Table S-3, Budge Summary) of the FY 2001 Budget document from your gpo.gov link I found the following:

          (2001 Estimates)
          Discretionary: $634
          DoD $279
          non-DoD $355

          Mandatory: $993
          Social Security: $355
          Medicare and medicaid: $342
          Means-tested entitlements: $111
          Other: $123

          Total: $1,835
          (All number in Billions)

          So we've got 15% for DoD (355/1835)
          and 6% for means-tested (111/1835). So you got half of it right but distorted the other half. Non-DoD and Social Security were more than DoD and Medicare/Medicaid was almost as much.

          So, it's an interesting chain you've strung but it doesn't hold together.
    • I think Larry probably needed the money to pay off all those San Jose Airport Noise Curfew fines [wired.com] he racked up.

      Ok, old news... but still pretty funny.

    • You just *now* realize why? Shoot, I've never lived in CA and I've known about this problem all along. That's one big reason I have little interest in ever moving there, despite the allure of their "digital economy".

      Cali has been blowing money on all sorts of big government spending fiascos since I can remember. (Much of it in the name of environmentalism.)

      Out of all 50 states, only CA thinks automobile emissions aren't good enough for them and imposes their own, stricter, rules.
      Nevermind the fact that all the pollution control systems on modern automobiles eliminate 99% of the pollutants already. They have to get rid of another .1 to .4% at *any* cost! Also, ask any performance car minded CA resident how they like their gasoline choices out there. State govt. seems to think 91 octane "super" unleaded is plenty good enough. The rest the country can at least get 93, and often 94 at Sunoco stations.

      Their bungled attempts at semi de-regulated power sure didn't help anyone out either.

      Isn't there a community in CA that has the dubious distinction of being the only one in the U.S. that ran high-speed Internet via fiber to every single home - all paid for by taxes?
      I'm sorry, but I'd rather pay my own way for *my* access than pay into a shared pot so everyone, including the unemployed beach bums living off welfare in subsidized housing, gets access.
      • You just *now* realize why?
        Uh, no... I was making a joke.

        See my other comment [slashdot.org] above.

        Isn't there a community in CA that has the dubious distinction of being the only one in the U.S. that ran high-speed Internet via fiber to every single home - all paid for by taxes?
        I think you might be thinking of Muscatine, Iowa [mpw.org].
  • Hmmmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by thedbp ( 443047 )
    Sounds to me as if the Oracle brass have been having lunch with the guys at Lockheed-Martin.....

  • How do you think Oracle et al make these huge amounts of cash. Is it via technical excellence or flogging to muppets on the golf course.

    Actually apologies to Kermit he wouldn't be stupid enough. Barnum applies and these guys are just applying that law. Stupid people get fleeced, they should quit on grounds of low intellect.
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:13PM (#3359789) Homepage
    California did sign the agreement. Oracle expects them to abide by the contract. California should have thought a bit more before signing, perhaps, but there is no wrongdoing here. If they signed a contract to purchase 270,000 useless copies of Red Hat, no one would be complaining.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahad@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:17PM (#3359831)
      If they signed a contract to purchase 270,000 useless copies of Red Hat, no one would be complaining.

      That's right, they wouldn't be complaining, because how much would 270,000 installs of RedHat cost? $89.95, that's how much.
      • Why not just download it and save the other $90?

        /sarcasm

        I think it is pushing things just a bit to do a quarter-million installs with the same CD. If the software is valuable enough to run 270,000 systems, compensate the company fairly.

        And people wonder why nobody can get a job as a programmer any more...
      • by throx ( 42621 )
        [i]That's right, they wouldn't be complaining, because how much would 270,000 installs of RedHat cost? $89.95, that's how much.[/i]

        Assuming they didn't want support for any install but one. Of course, if you don't want support at all why not just download it?

        Wake up a little. If you are installing 270,000 copies of *anything* you go to the company and arrance some sort of support deal that is independant of the retail price.
      • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FattMattP ( 86246 )
        That's right, they wouldn't be complaining, because how much would 270,000 installs of RedHat cost? $89.95, that's how much.
        Wrong. The original poster said "to purchase 270,000" copies of Red Hat. Red Hat Linux 7.2 costs $59.95 on their online store. That's $16,186,500 to purchase 270,000 copies. Of course, they could use just one copy, but that's not what the poster was talking about.
    • Didn't California also do the same thing with locking electricity rates at insane prices for 5 years?
    • If they signed a contract to purchase 270,000 useless copies of Red Hat, no one would be complaining.

      There's a slight difference here. What an obvious troll... At least nobody seems to be complaining about Mexico City's software purchases [wired.com].

      -B

      • by dewke ( 44893 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:32PM (#3359939)
        No, there is no difference.

        Oracle and California signed a contract, California was really REALLY stupid. I seriously doubt that Larry Ellison made California "an offer they couldn't refuse". Oracle is sure as hell not going to refuse the deal. They are a for profit company that sells software...

        It is not the companies responsibility to police its customers. If someone comes to my company and offers us 3x what we normally charge for our services we will happily take the extra cash, so will every other company on the planet.

        Caveat emptor...

        dewke
        • If someone comes to my company and offers us 3x what we normally charge for our services we will happily take the extra cash, so will every other company on the planet.

          Except maybe Bill Gates, who would rock back and forth and explain why they should actually pay 6x.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <swiftheart&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:34PM (#3359951)
      California did sign the agreement. Oracle expects them to abide by the contract.

      The situation is not exactly clear yet, but the article leads me to believe that the state will claim that Oracle and this Logicon company thinger may have misrepresented themselves during the contract negotiation process. Misrepresentation is definitely something that can cause contract to get nullified:

      "The disparity "raises the question that Logicon may have misled the state," the audit says. "The fact that Logicon appears to benefit by as much as $28.5 million from its role ... makes these disparities even more troubling."

      We shall see what happens in court.

  • Wow!! (Score:2, Funny)

    Where did Oracle trained their salesmen?? I need that kind of sales talent on my company. Do you think they would be interested in switching companies?
    • What is sad... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jagasian ( 129329 )
      I realize that you were joking, but what is sad is that most businessmen actually do put a high value on such unethical behaviour.
  • by Mad Man ( 166674 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:14PM (#3359798)
    Maybe everybody issued a national ID card, or scanned by facial recognition technology, will require a license from Oracle before they can be tracked?
  • by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:14PM (#3359800) Homepage Journal
    ... to make up for all those millions and millions the BSA claims are lost to piracy. He was just buying licenses for them.
  • Firebird [sourceforge.net] is open source (read: free). It's based on the the well-known InterBase [borland.com]. It probably even outperforms Oracle, while simultaneously being a lot less complicated and buggy. California taxpayers may now commence screaming.
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T3kno ( 51315 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:17PM (#3359830) Homepage

    Acutally it sounds to me like California got a hell of a deal. $95,000,000 / 270,000 = $351.85 per license. I haven't purchased an Oracle license recently, but I thought they were more than $350 bucks a seat. Hrmm...

    • According to the Oracle store:


      9i Enterprise Edition
      1 User (perpetual) $800
      1 User (2-year) $280
      1 User (4-year) $480

      9i Standard Edition
      1 User (perpetual) $300
      1 User (2-year) $105
      1 User (4-year) $180


      You can also license per processor and not have to worry about named users, but that's VERY expensive ($40k for a perpetual EE 1-proc license)
    • (Information taken from here [oracle.com].)

      For a 4-year named-user license of the Enterprise version of Oracle 9i, you'd pay a rate of $480/person.

      For the same thing for the Standard Edition, you'd pay a rate of $180/person.

      Now think about this: That is the going rate without any bulk discounts (which they do offer, just not on their web-site). Also, their contract is for 6 years, not 4. Overall, this wouldn't be such a bad deal if they NEEDED that many licenses. They don't.

      Eric

  • I dunno. Based on Ellison's attitude in a privacy article in last weeks NYT Sunday magazine, I wouldn't doubt that the guy would do anything to boost sales and get Oracle's share price back up to 50-60 bucks a share. What an ego on this guy. This California fiasco makes Microsoft seem benign in comaprison.

    My 2 cents....
    • Yeah, I saw that article (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/14/magazine/14TECH NO.html). Scary stuff.

      I have to agree with your assessment of Ellison - he comes across as incredibly pompous and arrogant individual, afflicted with the same overly-inflated sense of "I am right and you are wrong"-ness common to religious fanatics.

      The best (worst) quote in that article is from him:

      'I had one last question for Larry Ellison. ''In 20 years, do you think the global database is going to exist, and will it be run by Oracle?'' I asked.

      ''I do think it will exist, and I think it is going to be an Oracle database,'' he replied. ''And we're going to track everything.'''

      Makes Bill seem all soft and fluffy in comparison.

      Tig

  • by Atilla ( 64444 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:18PM (#3359835) Homepage
    ...if you get pulled over in california:

    "May I see your driver's license, proof of insurance, and your Oracle seat license please"

  • by jeremy f ( 48588 ) <jmf_24@hotmail.com> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:18PM (#3359841) Homepage
    ..Where Amy went car shopping at that "Malfunctioning Eddies" or wherever; and upon being sold a car (after haggling for it at a HIGHER price), the owner-robot exploded?

    Why do I get the impression that there's quite a few Oracle employees who just exploded; and that California is going to be mightily pissed when they find that their new Oracle Software isn't going to come with quite as much Eagle as the salesmen promised...
  • by japhmi ( 225606 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:19PM (#3359845)
    If the poster would actually read the article, they'd see that the company Logicon sold the Oracle software to the state, not Oracle themselves.
    • If the poster would actually read the article, they'd see that the company Logicon sold the Oracle software to the state, not Oracle themselves.

      Now I know where the "con" in "Logicon" comes from...
    • by hal200 ( 181875 ) <<ac.kdj> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:49PM (#3360082) Journal
      Perhaps you should have kept reading...and I block quoth (emphasis mine):

      In a written statement attached to the audit, Gage wrote, "In hindsight, it may have been more prudent to delay execution of the agreement" until the savings claims could be evaluated.

      A lawyer for the Department of General Services, meanwhile, was given only a few hours to review the contract.

      The breakneck timeline was imposed by Oracle, the audit says.

      "There was obviously a crushing need to hurry to get this thing done" to boost Oracle's reported earnings at the end of its fiscal year, Bowen said. "The state shouldn't be in the business of propping up any company's balance sheet, period."

      I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Oracle's involvement in this particular clusterfuck...If they hadn't been so intent on proping up their 4th quarter numbers, the contract would most likely have gotten the review, and probably the subsequent shrieking gales of laughter it deserved.

      Of course, a large helping of shame goes to the Gov't of Calif for letting Oracle/Logicon railroad them like that. This is the sort of thing 'due process' is meant to avoid.

  • Blame Oracle? (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Slashdolt ( 518657 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:19PM (#3359847) Homepage
    If you read the article, it wasn't Oracle who should be blamed for this. It was the sales people from Logicon Inc who scammed them.
  • DOIT (Score:2, Funny)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 )
    After reading the article, I get the scary feeling that the voices in my head that tell me to do things are getting into my computer too.

    "DOIT was set up to try to steer the state clear of contracting disasters,"

    "DOIT ignored these signs," the audit says.

    A spokesman for Elias Cortez, the state's chief information officer and the head of DOIT,

    FNORD
  • Irony (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blankmange ( 571591 )
    The irony of it all: a story lambasting Oracle for its unethical business practices and at the top of the page is an ad for Oracle 9i....
  • by smack_attack ( 171144 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:19PM (#3359857) Homepage
    We're in a recession and companies are STILL laying people off, yet California has the gall to blow $95M on too many licenses and software they don't need?

    Sadly, fiscal responsibility in the government still seems to be generations away. If I still lived in Cali I'd try and get a proposition on the ballot that new expenditures over $(n)M have to be approved by the voter. Ditto for raises for elected officials, we should be able to fire these idiots as easily as we elect them.
    • Whoah there fella... you are making far too much sense here. Why would anyone become a politician if they couldn't make money! lol Really, you should probably watch your back for a few years now that you have said something as 'terroristic' as that against the empire, er, government. ;)
    • did they really look? Did they do this on purpose (someone wanting to make a lot of money)?

      Who knows how it happened. Shit like this has been going on in U.S. government for over 150 years. People wanting to make profits elsewhere, buy a shitload of near worthless merchandise that has already been tested and rejected elsewhere but some moron feels the need to do it on the other side of the country.

      We are supposed to learn from history, not let it constantly repeat. I thought politicians were smart.
    • If I still lived in Cali I'd try and get a proposition on the ballot that new expenditures over $(n)M have to be approved by the voter.

      Do that and you'll never accomplish anything. Rarely does a community vote for referendums that will tax them more, even when things like schools, libraries and public works are desperately needed.

      Ditto for raises for elected officials, we should be able to fire these idiots as easily as we elect them.

      You obviously know little about democracy. If we did what you proposed we'd be no better than the ancient Athenians who let their "democracy" succumb to mob rule, where no one really ruled and the fate of any ruler was decided by the whim of a mob. And that's worse than wasting $95 million, recession or none.

  • Now California should start providing their extra copies of Oracle for free to whomever asks. First come, first serve. How do you like that Elison?
  • by nakhla ( 68363 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:20PM (#3359867) Homepage
    What I'd really like to see happen is California take some initiative and put this software to good use! Yes, they've got WAY more licenses than they need. But, that's based on their CURRENT need. California has the chance now to do some really big things with information management.

    My dad works for the State of Maryland. I can't even imagine how many millions (billions?) of dollars MD could save if they just restructured the way they maintain information. Welfare records are still being maintained using PAPER spreadsheets. Auditing this information takes months. The savings in this area alone could justify such a purchase. Auditing time could be cut drastically. Code could be written to locate discrepancies in the data. This doesn't even take into account things like payroll systems which could be automated. Doing that would allow the state to eliminate the positions of the hundreds of people with little-to-no education they have working in their payroll department.

    Bill Gates (love him or hate him) really hit the nail on the head in his book Business @ The Speed of Thought. It really outlines how technology can be used to increase the flow of information, while at the same time reducing the cost associated with acting on that information.

    Maybe someone in the California government will take charge and turn this bad situation into a golden opportunity!

    • What I'd really like to see happen is California take some initiative and put this software to good use! Yes, they've got WAY more licenses than they need.

      What if California resold their many unused Oracle licenses, thus undercutting future Oracle sales? California won't lose any money because the licenses have already been paid for (or at least allocated budget for).
    • > [MD state .gov does all its stuff on paper.] Auditing this information takes months. The savings in this area alone could justify such a purchase. Auditing time could be cut drastically. Code could be written to locate discrepancies in the data. This doesn't even take into account things like payroll systems which could be automated. Doing that would allow the state to eliminate the positions of the hundreds of people with little-to-no education they have working in their payroll department.
      >
      > Bill Gates (love him or hate him) really hit the nail on the head in his book Business @ The Speed of Thought. It really outlines how technology can be used to increase the flow of information, while at the same time reducing the cost associated with acting on that information.
      >
      >Maybe someone in the California government will take charge and turn this bad situation into a golden opportunity!

      Why would they do that?

      If a private sector employer did all its work on paper, having to hire thousands of unskilled workers and pay them benefits, it would have to raise prices (making competing products cheaper, driving its own customers away), or go bankrupt due to the higher expenses.

      The government can't go bankrupt -- nor can its customers purchase their services from a competing government. It's a monpoly - not in the Gatesian sense, but in the guys-with-guns sense. You can always dump Windows for Linux, but try explaining that "Joe's Auto Licensing Inc" does a better job than your state DMV the next time you get pulled over and asked to show your driver's license!

      The more folks a department in .gov hires, the more important the people who run that department become. The department's inefficient, slow, and costs too much to run? No problem! That just means we need more money! Who cares about the costs, we can always raise taxes, the taxpayer's good for the money.

      And besides, what are the taxpayers gonna do, buy their schools, roads, and police and fire departments from someone else? That's illegal! (Whew, good thing we make the laws that control that part, or we'd be fucked! OK, you can buy your schools from someone else if you really wanna, but you still gotta pay for ours :-)

      And the other stuff .govs do? Taxpayers buying their diversity training programs and social security and sensitivity classes and unemployment insurance and welfare from someone else? Hey, most people wouldn't buy those things at all. (Gee, also a good thing we can pass laws to make buying those things from us mandatory! :-)

      Governments will modernize and eliminate waste when they have an incentive to eliminate that waste. The only incentive that's been shown to motivate such cost reductions is the profit incentive. (Kinda a tautology, no? Only people who care about making money care about not spending it.) The government - by defintion - has no profit incentive. The private sector - again by definition - is all about profit incentive.

      So no, nobody in any government will "see this as a golden opportunity", because it's not an opportunity, because doing business at the speed of anything faster than a sloth on valium isn't what governments are about.

    • So maryland shoud waste money like california? What's the problem with hiring a good IS Team of 6 people (1 mgr 5 techs) for less than $800K a year and WRITE the app using Open and proven SQL databases? (PosgreSQL can do anything Oracle can) that way they aren't tied by the balls to a vendor, forced to take whatever solution the vendor just threw together and can modify it AT ANY TIME FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST.

      it won't happen because #1 government is stupid and hires stupid people.. (we elect stupid people, why should it change inside?)

      The first Federal/State/Local laws that should be passed is that a Open/in-house solution must be researched first and left on the table along side all the other bidders.. and THEN it has to be voted on. (Let's see make this salesperson rich, or give 7 people good paying jobs and have complete control of the project... let's make dave here rich....)

      it wont happen.. Just like how many corperations wont use open/free solutions (but the Techs do anyways... to hell with the CTO he dont know crap) until they see that they have been all along because of their employees did it silently.
      • by G-funk ( 22712 ) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @06:31PM (#3362191) Homepage Journal
        PosgreSQL can do anything Oracle can

        Ah. Everytime I hear "X can do everything Oracle can" it makes me smile.

        You know why oracle charges so much money? You know why oracle's the second biggest software company? Sure it's partly marketing, but mainly Oracle markets itself. Oracle is the most powerful, scalable, and generally rock-steady-makes-toast-cuts-potatoes-in-3-styles database in the world by a long shot bar none.

        Comparing postgressql to oracle is like comparing the JET engine and a .mdb file to SQL Server 2000. It's a joke and makes you look like an idiot to people who know anything about databases.
    • What I'd really like to see happen is California take some initiative and put this software to good use! Yes, they've got WAY more licenses than they need. But, that's based on their CURRENT need. California has the chance now to do some really big things with information management.

      Yes, but they're seat licenses. They have the ability to sit 270,000 state workers down at computers and all of them can use the database at once. Problem is, the state of california, once you discount the nontechnical workers, has far less than 270,000 employees. So they could've purchased far fewer licenses and still been able to perform the tasks you suggest. I'd cite some numbers, but I can't seem to find any numbers that nail down how many people do what for the state of California.

    • There's too many free db engines out there to ignore, plus Oracle may hinder license transfer.

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  • How do you think Oracle would treat the whole country?

    That they would take advantage of people stupid enough to let them? Am I missing something here?

    Are we now supposed to support more legislation to protect people from their own stupidity?
  • Moot Point (Score:5, Funny)

    by plinko_chip ( 571515 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:26PM (#3359898)
    All of this is meaningless, since within a years time California won't have any electricity!
  • No state agency has started using the Oracle software under the licensing agreement, signed almost a year ago. But the tab by June is expected to be $17 million.

    I thought this was kind of sad, I mean they are basically screwed, so they might as well use some of the software.

    But I guess they are just playing it safe in case the contract is nullified or something, which I highly doubt

    It seems there are a lot of companies out there whose only business it seems is to fleece governments. There seems to be a serious lack of reading agreements before they sign them in the various governments.

  • The exact same story surfaced here in Toronto about 3 or 4 months ago. The city purchased far more licenses than were required (I can't remember the value of the extra licenses, but it was definitely into the millions of dollars). Two incidents are hardly damning, but you have to wonder if there is any misrepresentation going on.
  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:30PM (#3359928) Homepage
    is that the CA Dept. of Information Technology (DoIT) that committed this colossal blunder was established just a few years ago precisedly to eliminate IT mismanagement and waste in State Agencies. I'm surprised Cortez (DoIT Director) still has a job, but that might not be true much longer. The legislature is considering abolishing the DoIT.

  • Do you realize that this software has to track every move you make as a citizen? It has to track every step you make, everything you buy, your religion, sexual life actions, etc, etc, etc.

    Governments need this kind of database power to be able to track every molecule of your body and every thought in your mind.

    Do you want them to put it in a simple text file? Come on, let them do it professionally!
  • no big deal (Score:2, Funny)

    by WildBeast ( 189336 )
    Governments have a history of wasting our taxes, if they didn't waste that money on Oracle licenses they would've wasted it on other stupid things.
    • True. It was either this, or another $17,000,000 toilet seat.

      Screw competing, I'm going to find something completely useless to sell to the government for millions.

  • by garver ( 30881 )

    I'm libertarian because I have no confidence in politicians, and this is a great example of why. Logicron screwed California. Why? As the saying goes, "A fool and his money are easily parted." Unless the fool is a government entity, because they can always raise taxes.

    When a company makes a stupid purchase, the company suffers and may go under. Oh, well. A smarter company takes their place.

    When a government makes the stupid purchase, taxpayers suffer and the politicians get a couple years to spin their way out of it before facing the next re-election. By then, voters are likely to have forgotten or given up.

    The government is run by politicians and politicians are, well, political. Political does not imply any sort of managerial or financial sense.

  • by mikosullivan ( 320993 ) <miko@nosPam.idocs.com> on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:46PM (#3360048)
    ... City of Largo, FL [consultingtimes.com] obtains more Linux licenses than it needs!!!! Mistake costs them.... um, nothing.
  • They recently also spent a lot of money making a switch from Novell GroupWise, to Lotus Notes. Why? Nobody really knows, though it's suspected that it's because someone was looking at a supervisor's mail and he wanted an encrypting mail system. (Of course, GroupWise is encrypting, but they went with Notes anyway.)

    They've spent hundreds of millions of dollars making the switch, and are spending more every day trying to keep it up to date and running.

    California knows how to waste money.
  • Let me tell you about our electric power...
  • Oh really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:53PM (#3360113) Journal
    He added, "This is a mess. And it's not one we need to sweep under the rug."

    And what kinds of messes DO we sweep under the rug?

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @01:56PM (#3360143) Homepage Journal
    First the government signs on for decade-long fixed price energy prices at the height of the energy shortage (And are whining about it now that prices are a tenth what they locked in at) and now this.

    I'd be pretty pisssed off if I lived in the state...

  • The company's name was LOGICON. "CON" is part of their strategy. :)
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @02:01PM (#3360195) Homepage Journal
    My wife works for an arm of the .gov. She told me M$ has been auditing the .gov for license compliance on every level as a form of retaliation against the recent trials.

    It's sort of a funny paradox, now the .gov is wanting to say buh bye M$, but the problem is a logistical one, how do you move and train all those employee's who were brought up on M$ over to *nix.

    Just a side note to the story I wanted to add, allmost ontopic.
  • had to be in cahoots with Logicon. There is no way that Logicon was off approx. 95% on its estimate of CA's computer costs, and nobody in the govt offices realized it. Someone likely got a fat kickback to look the other way, probably a mole staffer who was installed by Logicon precisely for this purpose. The bozos who run for office can be pretty dumb (with a few exceptions, most are talented only at reciting speeches written by others, to drum up campaign contributions), but the back room politicos who pull the strings certainly are not. Hope there is a big investigation a la Enron (I live and pay taxes in CA so it's my $$$.)

  • Why is everyone so sure that California was conned? Shouldn't we consider the possibility that Larry Ellison and Gray Davis made a pact? Perhaps Davis agreed to give Oracle millions of taxpayer-supplied dollars, in return for large campaign contributions from Ellison in the future. It's worth looking into, especially since the article reports that the purchase was not made after competitive bidding.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There was a recent release [gartner.com] by the Gartner Group that "Gartner believes that Oracle sales staff has inappropriately imposed extra licensing fees on some database customers." I guess this just furthers their case.

  • In one case, the audit found that Logicon's $3.6 million estimate of how much the state spent in one year on software maintenance was overstated by $3.2 million. This figure and others were used to bolster claims of the state's potential savings.

    The disparity "raises the question that Logicon may have misled the state," the audit says.


    Raises the question?? I think it pretty much answers the question with a resounding yes..
  • by dinotrac ( 18304 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2002 @02:52PM (#3360710) Journal
    I'd have been happy to set them up with PostgreSQL for $45 million.

    Oh, what the heck. I'm bigger than that.

    Guys --- if you manage to get yourself out of that Oracle boondoggle, I'll still be glad to get you PostgreSQL for $45 million.

    I am such an old softie.

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