Davis order requires competitive bidding on state contracts

By Steve Lawrence The Associated Press
Tuesday May 21, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Trying to put to rest a politically embarrassing contract controversy, Gov. Gray Davis issued an executive order Monday requiring competitive bidding on most state contracts worth at least $100,000. 

Davis also said he would sign a bill he vetoed in 1999 banning technology consultants from advising the state on computer contracts and then bidding on the same contracts. 

“These actions will put an end to large sole-source contracts by the state until we establish tough regulations that promote competitive bidding,” Davis said in a statement. “I am determined to ensure that taxpayers get their money’s worth and that all state contracts withstand scrutiny.” 

He made the announcement as a legislative committee prepared to question some of the governor’s top aides this week about a $95 million, no-bid contract the state signed last year with the Oracle Corp. 

The deal was billed as a way for the state to save at least $16 million — and potentially tens of millions more — through volume purchases and maintenance of database software. 

But the state auditor said last month that the contract could end up costing the state up to $41 million more than if it had kept its previous software supply arrangements, a conclusion Oracle disputes. 

Adding to the controversy is the fact that Davis received a $25,000 campaign contribution from Oracle a few days after the contract was signed. 

Both Davis and Oracle officials say there was no link between the donation and the contract, but Davis has returned the money and administration and Oracle officials have begun discussing how to rescind the deal. 

Administration officials had hoped to have an agreement with Oracle this week, but Davis spokesman Steve Maviglio said it could take longer than originally expected.