Oregon, derided for the abysmal failure of its Obamacare enrolment website, is having a little bit more than buyer's regret. It's suing Oracle, the provider of the software and deployment work, for failure to deliver a working product and gross incompetence. At issue is whether a systems integrator was needed to complete the job.
Cover Oregon was supposed to be the central portal for state residents to enrol in the US's Affordable Care Act. Like with the technology problems that plagued HealthCare.gov, the US federal government's site, Cover Oregon simply didn't work, and caused the state to direct the federal site and complete extra paperwork and online forms.
The lawsuit filed in San Francisco goes beyond technology failures, though.
Oregon is accusing Oracle of misconduct, civil racketeering, and breach of contract for "failing to deliver" on its obligations, overcharging for poorly trained Oracle personnel to provide incompetent work, hiding from the state the true extent of Oracle's shoddy performance, continuing to promise what it could not deliver, and wilfully refusing to honour its warranty to fix errors without charge.
State officials say Oracle charged $240m for its software and professional services over three years. The lawsuit seeks $200m in damages.
Oracle isn't taking the accusations lightly. The software company filed a lawsuit against Oregon, too, for breach of contract and is seeking more than $23m in unpaid bills.
A decision on these competing lawsuits may come down to one point: whether the project needed a qualified, third-party systems integrator.
The channel - VARs, managed service providers and systems integrators - exists for more than just sales and market coverage.
These companies provide the technical expertise and service capacity to bridge technologies produced by different vendors, creating holistic, operational systems, as desired by the Cover Oregon programme.
Oregon officials say Oracle promised it could deliver the software and integration work to make a complete, operational system.
This is no small task, as it involves linking the Cover Oregon site to federal and state tax and health care databases. As the HealthCare.gov debacle revealed, connecting so many moving parts proved more challenging than designers anticipated.
Moreover, Oregon claims that Oracle actively discouraged the state from engaging outside integrators and support for the project, instead wanting to keep the work and revenue for itself. As Oregon wrote in its court complaint: "[Oracle was] dead set against the state hiring an independent systems integrator."
On the other hand, Oracle says it was Oregon that didn't want to deal with a systems integrator. An Oracle spokeswoman told the The Oregonian newspaper that the state's lawsuit is "a fictional account of the Oregon healthcare project".
What the competing lawsuits show is the value of systems integrators and the limitations of vendors in performing professional services; the channel's value extends well beyond market coverage and technology sales.
Larry Walsh is chief analyst and chief executive at the 2112 Group
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners