Virginia IT repairs taking ‘longer than anticipated’

Weeklong statewide outage still affects three state agencies

The commonwealth of Virginia, which prides itself on its advanced information technology use across state agencies, has hit a computer glitch.

Last week, a failure in a critical component in a data storage unit at a state facility near Richmond led to a massive computer failure that affected the networks at 27 agencies.

Most are back online now, but three are still experiencing problems that are affecting their ability to perform their normal duties.

For one, all 74 Division of Motor Vehicles offices have been unable to issue new or replacement driver’s licenses or identification cards since Aug. 25, according to today’s Washington Post.

Northrop Grumman Corp. won a controversial and problem-plagued $2.3 billion contract in 2005 to provide computer and communications services to the state government. The contract was renegotiated this past April in the wake of numerous problems and missed deadlines.

In a statement issued Aug. 31, Northrop Grumman said it and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, which oversees the statewide system, are working around the clock to restore the systems at the three agencies.

“This failure set off a chain of events that impacted 485 out of a total of approximately 4,800 servers and has seriously impacted several agencies and hampered their ability to conduct business,” the Northrop statement said.

“As the servers have been brought back online each agency’s technical staff has been working to test the integrity of the data,” it said, adding that “within 72 hours of the incident 21 out of 27 agencies affected were operational.”

“However, the data recovery timeline for the [DMV], State Board of Elections, and Department of Taxation and Revenue has taken longer than anticipated,” Northrop added.

“We will conduct a root cause analysis, carefully analyze and review the findings, develop lessons learned, and make necessary changes,” the statement said.

Northrop Grumman., of Los Angeles, ranks No. 2 on Washington Technology’s 2010 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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