An Oracle consultant made contact with the Victorian education department's former deputy secretary, Darrell Fraser during the Ultranet tender process, breaking the rules of no communication, an investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has alleged.
The Victorian Department of Education and Training is facing a public hearing this week over allegations that there was unfair influence in procuring the technology for Ultranet, which is an online learning management portal developed for government state students, teachers and parents.
In 2012, the Victorian Auditor-General found the project had not delivered on time and budget, it was poorly implemented, and was lacking a substantive business case. The project cost up to $240 million, blown out from the previously reported $180 million.
Oracle, as part of CSG, won the contract in mid-2009, with former Oracle consultant Frank Aloisio having had a close working relationship with Darrell Fraser in the past.
Aloisio worked for Fraser in developing an intranet system for Glen Waverly Secondary College during the early 2000s, when Fraser was the school’s principal. Around 2003, Fraser left the school to work as a deputy secretary at the Victorian education department with Aloisio joining Oracle as a consultant.
Aloisio and Fraser maintained a relationship after they left Glen Waverly Secondary College. Aloisio admitted that Fraser was “heavily engaged” in Oracle and its Learning 360 technology, which was used for a ‘Students at the Centre’ pilot program.
In 2006, Fraser along with other officials from the Victorian education department were invited to visit Oracle’s offices in New York. During the trip, they were treated to five-star accommodation, a dinner at a top restaurant, and other indulgent experiences, IBAC alleged.
During the Ultranet tender process in mid-2008, a company that Aloisio had dealings with contacted Fraser, breaking the rules that Oracle and the companies it deals with must not communicate with the department’s staff during this period.
Aloisio was a co-director of a company called CingleVue, which provided services to Oracle and had connections into the Vic education department. During the tender process, he wrote a document that outlined how CingleVue was superior in its offer over others competing for the contract. This somehow fell directly into Fraser’s hands, with notes in his handwriting all over the bottom of the document, IBAC revealed.
IBAC also revealed that Oracle executive Greg Martin, who also helped run CingleVue, emailed his offer to Fraser’s daughter to pass onto him. Martin disguised himself under an email address with the name "Growlerbarman".
“Clearly what’s being done is documents that perhaps shouldn’t have been in the possession of anyone are being forwarded in a way that keeps the documents and the forwarding secret,” Ian Hill, Counsel Assisting, told Aloisio yesterday at the hearing.
“You know that during the tender process you can’t communicate. And here is an example of that important rule being broken.”
The hearing continues to take place this week.