System failure, human error to blame for state computer outage

An external audit of events surrounding an August 2010 state computer disruption revealed the cause of the failure as a combination of the failure of a key data storage system and good old-fashioned human error.

The audit, released today by the McDonnell administration and the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, was critical of Northrup Grumman’s handling of the initial system-related failures. The report said the problem was exacerbated by the failure of Northrup Grumman to follow two industry best practices and the insufficient degree of self-governance by the company toward continuous process improvement and management of risk.

The Aug. 25 disruption impacted 13 percent of the state’s executive-branch file servers and 26 of the 89 agencies in the executive branch, including the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“The disruption to our state computer system last August caused the Commonwealth to incur significant expenses. It impacted a broad array of state agencies, including some of the agencies our citizens most commonly interact with on a daily basis. Many Virginians were inconvenienced by this disruption and lost hours of their time in dealing with the outages. It was an unacceptable failure and one that cannot be allowed to reoccur,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement Tuesday.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.



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