State loses computer service to many agencies

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Computer service to 24 state agencies was interrupted Thursday due to a statewide system problem. The outage, reportedly the largest to hit the state since 2007, wreaked havoc at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, which was unable to process driver’s license transactions inside its 74 customer service centers.

DMV customers could renew by going through the agency’s online website or by using the state’s automated telephone service at 1-888-337-4782.  DMV was able to handle other transactions, such as vehicle decals and titles.  Besides DMV, other affected agencies included Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Virginia Employment Commission, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

By late afternoon, some of the state’s servers had been returned to service as technicians at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency scrambled to repair equipment problems. They were working with private contractor Northrop Grumman to troubleshoot the problem and recover data on the storage-area network.  “Knowledgeable and dedicated staff at the agencies, VITA and Northrop Grumman are working together to respond appropriately to the impacted systems. It is our priority to minimize these impacts and restore services as quickly as possible,” said Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

In April, Virginia overhauled its $2.3 billion contract with Northrop Grumman to provide computer service to more than 80 state agencies following complaints about poor service and missed deadlines. The state agreed to new costs and an extension of the contract to 2019 in exchange for improved customer service features such as rapid response teams. Virginia initially awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman in late 2005 in what was then its largest ever privatization deal.


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