Agencies tally human, data losses

DOD counting on reserves, outsourcing to replace workers<@VM>Backups protected most data at offices in Trade Center

A desk inside a Pentagon office frames a view of the destruction.

A stopped clock freezes the time of attack.

Steven Hornblower of the Service Master Recovery Management Division cleans the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon last week.

DOD's Stenbit: IT work force was hit hard.

By Dawn S. Onley,

GCN Staff

The Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon left a hole in more than the building itself. It ripped a breach in the Defense Department's IT systems staff as well.

Dozens of Army and Navy military and civilian IT personnel are still unaccounted for and presumed dead, Defense officials said last week. Among them, for example, was Gregg Harold Smallwood, 44, of Overland Park, wood of Overland Park, Kan., a chief information systems technician for the Navy.

Before the terrorist attack, there was already a shortage of skilled IT workers in DOD. Now, the situation appears to be reaching crisis conditions, officials said.

'The tragedy was doubly so for the information community,' said Defense CIO John P. Stenbit. The command, control, communications and intelligence community 'was hit extremely hard. This exacerbates a general shortage we have in communications, computers and intelligence specialists. In the aftermath of this vicious attack, C3I people will be working harder than ever as our nation responds to this crisis.'

Stenbit said DOD hopes to outsource more computer support and has called for emergency support. 'We are additionally calling up Reserve forces qualified to do critical command and control work,' he said.

One-fourth of the 42 Navy personnel unaccounted for are IT workers, according to Defense officials. In the Army, dozens of systems workers, mostly civilian, are among the 74 still missing.

IT casualties

On addition to the human losses, Stenbit said, the damage most likely includes lost data and impaired Defense systems, but even a week after the attack, officials had yet to determine which systems were hit the hardest.

He also said military officials could not yet tell which data would be easily replaced and which would not.

'There are places here that don't exist anymore,' Stenbit said.

But thanks to system redundancy, the Pentagon did not lose mission-critical services, Stenbit said. There are two major communications links into the Pentagon. The jetliner crash damaged one of them, but it was quickly restored.

Stenbit declined to discuss the type of communication line that was cut, citing security concerns.

Like other victims, Defense has received many offers of help and support in the wake of the attacks. The IT community in Washington has flooded Defense phone lines with offers of help, said Ron Turner, deputy CIO of the Navy.

'The DOD IT vendor community wanted to donate hardware, software, servers, rehosting capabilities, technical support and operational support ' anything they could do to help DOD through the horrific events in the Pentagon,' Turner said.

Cybersecurity boost

Defense also is beefing up cybersecurity. Although DOD has seen no increase in probes, scans, viruses or intrusion attempts, it has a heightened awareness of such threats, said Maj. Barry Venable, a spokesman for the Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., which monitors Defense networks.

He declined to say specifically what steps DOD is taking to increase information security, aside from saying systems monitoring has increased.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said DOD is preparing for all types of threats, including major attacks on Defense networks.

'People don't want to contest our armies, navies or air forces,' Rumsfeld said. 'They know they'll lose. What they can do is use these asymmetrical threats of terrorism and chemical warfare and biological warfare and ballistic missiles and cruise missiles and cyberattacks. We need to continue to work on those problems.'

For a complete list of people at the Pentagon who are lost or unaccounted for, see Page 46.

Treasury's Flyzik: Backup systems saved data.

By Patricia Daukantas,

GCN Staff

Thanks to backup systems and offsite storage, most civilian offices affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks did not lose any mission-critical data.

Backup policies vary widely, however, and in the wake of this month's disasters, officials are increasingly closemouthed about storage specifics.

Treasury Department CIO James Flyzik said last Tuesday that one Secret Service special that one Secret Service special officer was still unaccounted for at the World Trade Center. The Secret Service had an office on the ninth floor at 7 World Trade Center, the building that collapsed several hours after its larger neighbors.

All other Secret Service, Customs Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and IRS personnel who worked at the Trade Center have been accounted for. 'Obviously the people were our top priority,' Flyzik said.

He said the affected bureaus have 'meticulous backup procedures' and in most cases saved their critical casework. What was lost was personal papers and notes.

'We don't think we've lost institutional knowledge,' Flyzik said.

Treasury runs mission-critical applications from centralized mainframes. The PCs in field offices would have run local applications, not core mission systems, he said.

Until Sept. 11, one of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's largest regional offices was on the 18th floor of 7 World Trade Center. All 124 employees of the EEOC office were evacuated safely, said Jim Ryan, a spokesman at EEOC headquarters in Washington.

The commission's regional offices back up their information nightly to a national database in Washington, EEOC spokesman Reginald Welch said.

Nightly backup

Although that mission-critical information is 'in pretty good shape,' e-mail messages and other data on regional offices' file servers are backed up once a month, Welch said.

Letters, forms, affidavits and other material kept on paper 'just doesn't get into our electronic system,' Welch said.

EEOC officials hope to recover some of the paperwork by contacting court clerks, defense lawyers and claimants. 'Maybe with a little cooperation and some luck, we can recover a lot of that stuff,' Welch said.

Some EEOC officials want to give the regional offices document scanners to digitize paperwork, but they have lacked funding to do so, Welch said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also lost its Northeast regional office in the World Trade Center complex. Last week, commission spokesmen declined to discuss media reports that vital SEC documents had been destroyed.

'We are in the process of reviewing the status of every single investigation and case currently under way at the Northeast regional office,' a spokesman said. 'While that assessment has not been completed, we are confident that we will not lose any significant investigation or case.'

Census Bureau officials will probably review their disaster recovery and backup plans, said Roger Rhoads, chief of network and technical services in the Client Support Office.
The bureau backs up enterprise data to a location 30 miles from its Suitland, Md., headquarters, Rhoads said. Additional data backups are distributed among multiple buildings at Suitland.

Some agencies are refusing to publicize their data storage arrangements in the wake of the attacks. Brian Dunbar, a spokesman at NASA headquarters in Washington, said, 'It is a security issue now.'

The 1,500 field offices of the Social Security Administration keep very little data locally, said James Priessner, SSA's associate commissioner for telecommunications and systems operations. Most information resides on six central mainframes divided into about 20 virtual machines for redundancy.

SSA backs up on daily, weekly and monthly cycles, depending on the data, said Dean Mesterharm, deputy commissioner for systems.

The agency's IT staff backs up an average of 150,000 files daily, Mesterharm said, and transfers the tape cartridges to a secure location away from Baltimore headquarters.

In addition, SSA maintains backup computer systems in Illinois, New Jersey and Texas, Mesterharm said. Once a year, the agency conducts a full-scale test as if the backup systems had to take over for those in Baltimore.

One former SSA official who served during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing recommended that all agencies review their data policies, even if they have data backup and disaster recovery systems in place.

'I would step back and take a fresh look with a fresh eye,' said Renato A. DiPentima, now government sector president of SRA International Inc. of Arlington, Va.

Emotional impact

DiPentima was SSA's CIO at the time of the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which contained a Social Security office.

In Oklahoma City, 'it took a long time to get over the emotional impact of losing our coworkers and our customers who happened to be in the office,' DiPentima said.

Mike Miller, director of the National Archives and Records Administration's Modern Records Program, said his staff stands ready to assist agencies whose operations were affected, although he has been unable to reach many of them.

'They don't necessarily have published telephone numbers, and they aren't getting their e-mail,' Miller said.

NARA's vital-records guidebook is on the Web at www.nara.gov/records/pubs/vital.html.

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