Davis aides questioned about computer deal

The Associated Press
Monday May 06, 2002

SACRAMENTO — While a legislative committee investigating the state’s software contract with Oracle Corp. meets Monday, Gov. Gray Davis’ finance director and Oracle officials will discuss killing the contract criticized as wasteful. 

Finance Director Tim Gage will meet with Oracle executives to negotiate an end to the state’s six-year, $95 million, no-bid contract to buy and administer database management software from Oracle, Davis spokesman Steve Maviglio said Sunday. 

Meanwhile, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearings led by Assemblyman Dean Florez will feature at least eight Davis administration officials Monday, Florez said. A Democrat from Shafter and committee chairman, Florez will focus on the roles of two Davis aides — Cynthia Curry, a top lawyer in the General Services Department, and Kari Dohn, a Davis policy adviser. 

Curry will be asked how the contract was reviewed before it was signed, Florez told the Orange County Register. Dohn will be asked if Davis was told about the contract. 

On Friday, Davis said he didn’t know about the contract before it was signed. 

Also testifying will be Elias Cortez, the suspended state technology chief, and Betty Yee, the chief deputy director of the Department of Finance. 

Originally touted as a way for the state to save money through volume software purchases, the contract has turned controversial as a state auditor report says it would cost taxpayers as much as $41 million more than if the state had relied on previous suppliers. The state and Oracle had said the contract would save the state $16 million. Oracle has disputed Auditor Elaine Howle’s report, saying she severely underestimated the state’s future database needs. Last week, Oracle officials said they would end the contract with the state, and on Saturday officials from Logicon Inc., the company packaging the software with Oracle, said they, too, would drop the contract. On Sunday, Maviglio welcomed the Logicon offer but said that while Gage will meet Monday with Oracle, no meeting with Logicon has been arranged yet.