Larry Ellison a major contributor to Blair Institute vaccine database plan

A relationship forged in UK government IT continues to blossom

Software magnate Larry Ellison is a leading contributor to the policy institute built by former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

According to the Larry Ellison Foundation's IRS return filed late last year, Oracle's CTO and founder donated $33.83 million to the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) in 2021 and plans to contribute another $49.37 million in the near future.

Ellison's foundation is also listed as a donor on the body's most recent set of accounts filed [PDF] at Companies House.

The TBI is a non-profit organization founded in 2016. Among its declared objectives is to advise governments on "strategy, policy and delivery, unlocking the power of technology across all three."

Ellison's cash is set to contribute to a joint partnership the pair established in 2020 which aims to offer African countries a database of vaccination records to help monitor and combat diseases. The Institute hopes to increase the scope of the system across Africa. It aims to create a digital database of patient records that will be free for at least 10 years.

Another link between the pair is that TBI's exec veep of Strategy and Partnerships, Awo Ablo, is also a board director at Oracle.

Health databases have been something of a shared obsession between Tony Blair and Larry Ellison. While UK prime minister, the former attended a notorious Downing Street seminar on Monday 18 February 2002 at which Microsoft pitched the idea of a mega tech programme for the NHS, which became the £12 billion National Programme for IT. It was a disaster which was stopped early in 2011 and "did not deliver key benefits," according to spending watchdog the National Audit Office said.

Ellison's Oracle bought health sector software specialist Cerner in June last year for an estimated price of $28.3 billion.

Since then, the bronzed tech leader has promised to deliver “a unified national health records database on top of all of these thousands of separate hospital databases" in the US.

At the same time, a $10 billion project he inherited from Cerner has ground to a halt. The Department of Veterans Affairs — the $297-billion budget federal unit — announced EHR deployments would be suspended indefinitely while it focused on improving five sites that currently use the new EHR, as part of a larger program reset, following concerns over patient safety. Oracle is renegotiating the contract.

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The Times pointed out that Blair had known Ellison since his time in Downing Street, when "Oracle became a significant supplier of technology to the government." In fact, Oracle still runs more than half of the UK central government's financial and planning software, including the Department for Work & Pensions, Ministry of Justice, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Cabinet Office, Home Office, HM Treasury, and Ministry of Defence.

The Home Office migrated to Oracle during Blair's tenure as prime minister. In 2006, a damning NAO said the department's inability to deliver its accounts on time were down to problem with the system. Once a fix was implemented, it led to an adjustment of the bank account and creditor balances by £67 million ($85 million), according to Parliamentary records. ®

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