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Oracle Probe Heats Up

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Some of Governor Gray Davis´ top aides could face tough questioning this week as a legislative committee steps up its investigation of a potentially costly and politically embarrassing computer contract. Davis´ Cabinet secretary, Susan Kennedy, and Finance Director Tim Gage are among administration officials and former officials that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee plans to question during up to three days of hearings that start Tuesday. The committee is looking into a 95 million dollar, no-bid database software contract that the state signed last year with the Oracle Corporation.

The agreement was billed as a way that the state could save at least 16 million dollars through volume purchases and equipment maintenance. But the state auditor says the deal could end up costing up to 41 million dollars more than if the state had kept its previous software supply arrangements. Critics complain that state officials didn´t verify the savings claims made by Oracle before signing the contract.