VITA CIO Sam Nixon explains what went wrong

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The people in charge at VITA are still trying to figure out what went wrong. Virginia's Chief Information Officer, Sam Nixon, makes no excuses for this technological meltdown.

He knows VITA screwed up.

"We see that this failure and this recovery that has gone on for more than a week," he said. "It is simply an unacceptable failure."

Nixon and the state's multi-billion dollar private contractor, Northrop Grumman, are trying to understand why a memory card in the state's data storage system failed -- bringing down computer operations in close to 30 state agencies.

The failure wasn't so much in the card, but in the system designed to back it up. It went down at the absolute wrong time.

"A piece of equipment that is meant to never go down, went down," he said.

As result, tens of thousands of Virginians hoping to renew their driver's licenses were left waiting, DSS payments were delayed and the State Tax Department was crippled. It's a crippling that the Commonwealth has yet to recover from. It's that recovery that Nixon is the most disappointed with.

"The recovery time has been unacceptable," he said.

Moving forward, Nixon is aware that this latest issue will only add to a growing chorus of disappointment with Northrop Grumman, a company that is contracted to the tune of more than $200 million a year.

"We are certainly looking to Northrop Grumman to make this right," said Nixon. "I think the most painful part of this is knowing that there are citizens in the Commonwealth, friends and neighbors of mine that really were harmed by this."

An independent third party will analyze what went wrong. Both Governor Bob McDonnell and Nixon have vowed that Northrop Grumman will be held accountable -- even if that means compensating the taxpayers of Virginia for losses incurred during the outage.

*You can see extended clips of our interview with CIO Sam Nixon on our political blog,

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