Oracle California deal woman "didn't have a clue" about problem contract

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The woman who supported the signing of a $95 million contract with Oracle said she had "no clue" about problems with the deal, despite misgivings voiced by colleagues in the California State Government.

Aileen Adams was one of the officials who endorsed the controversial six year contract under which Oracle supplied database software to every government agency in California. A state auditor's report has said the state ended up paying more than $6 million too much for the software which was largely unused.

When asked about the problems highlighted by the audit report, she insisted: "I had no clue." She added that she only became aware of issues in February this year, months before the audit report, admitting: "We gradually began to see that it may not be such a great deal for the state."

In a significant move, Oracle has now agreed to send five salespeople to testify at the inquiry into the deal – but only after the inquiry committee made it clear that it was prepared to subpoenea those it wanted to question. Oracle had wanted more time and to submit a different employee to testify.

Critics have accused Oracle and its partner Logicon of hurrying through the deal and questioned its tactics, which included trying to keep information from certain state individuals. But the company insisted it would co-operate. "Beginning with Oracle's multiple offers to rescind the contract, we have cooperated every step of the way with all parties involved in reviewing the software agreement," it said in a statement. "We look forward to a factual discussion with the committee."

Meanwhile the political row over the deal contrinues. It has been revealed that Oracle donated $25,000 to the re-election campaign of Democrat Governor Gray Davis after the deal was signed. That money has been returned and Davis’ colleagues insist he knew nothing of the Oracle contract. But Republicans have hit back saying they would be astonished if he hadn’t known about it.

Davis says of the contract that he is "as mad as anyone".

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