How did state miss California investigation of ex-Cover Oregon website chief?

How did state miss California investigation of ex-Cover Oregon website chief?
From left to right: Carolyn Lawson; Bob Ladouceur, information system applications manager; and Dane Wilson, information systems specialists. (Photo from Oracle's website)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority has yet to return a request for comment on a report that former CIO Carolyn Lawson was investigated for mishandling state contracts when she worked for the state of California.

The Oregonian on Friday first carried a story detailing an investigation into Lawson’s attempt – while CIO of the California Utility Commission in 2008 -  to funnel five contracts worth almost $500,000 to a company run by her former boss, Steven Powell.

The California investigation – since obtained by KATU -  found Lawson inappropriately tried to award the contracts without acquiring competing bids, as state law requires.

Powell replaced Lawson as CIO for OHA/DHS when she resigned in December, shortly after the KATU Investigators uncovered her many professional appearances on behalf of Oracle – the company hired to help create the Cover Oregon website.

Additionally, documents uncovered by KATU suggest her development team may have misrepresented progress to federal reviewers in order to secure continued funding.

In seeking comment on the California investigation, KATU on Monday asked the Oregon Health Authority whether the state’s background check on Lawson revealed the contract issue, whether Powell’s involvement was likewise known before he was hired, and whether Powell’s employment status as interim CIO could change in light of this information.

Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website: