VITA's troubled past

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The operation of the state's computer system went under a dramatic overhaul in 2005. The result was the largest public-private partnership of its kind, anywhere in America.

It's a partnership that has been plagued with problems.

When it was ushered into law it was heralded as a more effective way to do the state's business.

Hand the responsibilities of operating the state's massive computer system to a private company with a high level of expertise.

Armed with a 10-year contract and $2.3 billion, Northrop Grumman consolidated the state's computing operations.

The company operated under the watchful eye of the Virginia Information Technology Board, not the Governor's office.

Quickly it became clear that there was little accountability over what Northrop Grumman was up to. It led to many complaints from state agencies and eventually forced a series of Commonwealth Chief Information Officers out the door.

A study from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee concluded that both the private company and the public sector were to blame and ordered an overhaul.

In 2010, Governor Bob McDonnell -- while wooing Northrop Grumman's headquarters to Virginia -- overhauled and extended its contract. The new contract has the agency ultimately reporting to the Governor's office and requires stricter accountability guidelines.

All of this history led to last week, where the state's computer system incurred what the State's Technology Director described as an "unprecedented" outage.

Governor McDonnell has ordered an operational and performance review of the problem by an independent third party. The Governor said part of that review will determine if the state should be reimbursed by Northrop Grumman for lost business and productivity.

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