DOJ, Michigan Arent Necessarily Hypocrites

It would be fun to say the Department of Justice and the state of Michigan are hypocrites because their ERP buys seem to contradict their argument against Oracle's bid for PeopleSoft. Unfortunately, the hypocrisy charge falls apart under closer inspection

I was tickled pink to read last week that the U.S. Justice Department and the state of Michigan were enterprise-sized hypocrites.

Heres a recap of the news: Both of these governmental bodies are suing Oracle Corp. for antitrust violations in its pursuit to take over PeopleSoft Inc. (As are a slew of other states, the roster for which keeps growing, not to mention the European Commissions inquiry into the matter.)

As most of us know, the crux of their argument is that the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software market essentially consists only of the three big boys: SAP AG, Oracle and PeopleSoft. If the market shrinks to two, the sky will fall as all choice evaporates and technology innovation stagnates, their argument goes.

/zimages/3/28571.gifOhio, Michigan and Connecticut all have filed to join the antitrust suit against Oracle, saying theyre trying to protect taxpayers. Click here to read more.

The hypocritical part came in when the state of Michigan recently chose Lawson Software Inc. for its ERP needs, while the DOJ hooked up with AMS for its ERP implementation.

Two nonprofits devoted to business competition, ACT (the Association for Competitive Technology) and the American Shareholders Association, came out last week and demanded that Michigan and the DOJ immediately drop their lawsuit against Oracle.

After all, the groups said, if the market for ERP products were really all that constricted by the Oracle-PeopleSoft-SAP trio, why then could these bodies turn to Lawson and AMS? Why, indeed, dont the DOJ and states such as Michigan admit that the ERP market is broader than they would have us believe?

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about ACTs charges of hypocrisy.

Such a story is fun because, on first read, it makes huge bureaucracies look clueless. Ah-ha, we say; the left hand doesnt know what the right hand is doing. Such a story makes the DOJ and the state of Michigan appear to have disparate departments that never confer with each other. You can just imagine a roomful of DOJ lawyers in suits, blinking at the unlikely idea of actually talking to those geeky guys down in the basement of the DOJs hallowed halls, where dwell the neer-consulted inhabitants of the IT department.

The problem with that picture is that its just not true. The hypocrisy charge certainly wont hold water. Nice try, but the argument isnt going to get the DOJ et al off of Oracles back.

Next page: Why the hypocrisy charge is full of holes.