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Data center back up after 'catastrophic failure'

No data was lost, but shutdown could affect unemployed
 Posted: 2:00 AM July 17, 2013

SALEM — A "catastrophic failure" at Oregon's state government data center delayed unemployment payments for thousands of people and briefly crippled operations in state agencies.

Technicians from a state contractor were expanding storage Monday night when something went wrong, said Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, which administers the State Data Center.

No data was lost, but the failure left agencies statewide unable to connect to databases and interrupted overnight computing processes. Employees were unable to access email. Operations returned to normal Tuesday morning. Shelby said.

"Anything that was kind of a scheduled, routine job that had to pull data from the State Data Center, it didn't happen last night," Shelby said.

That includes processing of unemployment benefits. Roughly 70,000 people are expected to file jobless claims this week, and about 90 percent of them are generally processed on Monday nights, said Tom Fuller, a spokesman for the Oregon Employment Department.

Officials hoped to process payments Tuesday night, but payments would be delayed at least a day, Fuller said. Programmers had to repair a corrupted database, but the data is backed up and officials have records of who gets payments and how much, he said. The agency's job-search portal, known as iMatchSkills, also was down.

Monday's applications for food stamps were not processed as scheduled overnight, said Gene Evans, a spokesman for the Department of Human Services. About 35 affected families will get access to benefits a day late on Wednesday morning, he said.

Driver and Motor Vehicle Services offices did not experience problems Tuesday morning, spokesman David House said.

The State Data Center is a centralized server farm where state agencies store and process data, from employee email to sensitive information about public assistance recipients.

The Legislature in 2005 approved funding to consolidate data for 12 state agencies, but the project came under fire for delays and security lapses. In a March 2012 audit, the Secretary of State's Office recommended improving disaster recovery plans.

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