Three Virginia agencies still offline a week after IT disruption, officials say

According to a statement released Monday night, the Commonwealth of Virginia has yet to bring its statewide data storage system online after a malfunction August 25. The outage originally affected twenty-seven of Virginia’s eighty-nine agencies, and Technology Secretary Jim Duffey reports that three agencies are not yet fully operational: the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Taxation and the State Board of Elections.

In a statement released at 5pm August 30, 2010, Sec. Duffey said the failure of an EMC storage area network is to blame. The failure of two circuit boards installed and maintained by EMC is an “unprecedented” outage, Duffey said. “The manufacturer reports that the system and its underlying technology have an exemplary history of reliability, industry-leading data availability of more than 99.999 percent and no similar failure has occurred in more than one billion hours of run time,” Duffey said in a statement.

Virginia’s over 70 DMVs seemed to be the hardest hit and most widely affected agency by the outage. Drivers seeking to renew or apply for licenses or ID cards have been unable to do so because a processing function was part of the hardware failure.

In a high-profile deal Northrop Grumman was awarded a statewide $2.5 billion IT outsourcing deal for the Commonwealth in 2005. More famously, Northrop was credited for the ouster of former Virginia Secretary of Technology Lemuel C. “Lem” Stewart Jr., after calling the company’s performance into question last year.

Recently, Northrop received an additional $236 million after a contract renegotiation more clearly outlined the company’s responsibilities and functions as Virginia’s IT network provider.

A root cause analysis of the failure is underway, officials said. And according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Gov. McDonnell has ordered an “independent third party” to investigate “operational and performance” indicators to “best protect the interests of the Commonwealth.”

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