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The Wheeler State Data Center (Reuven Carlyle photo)

This is not what the state needed. After much criticism about the construction of the state’s new data center in Olympia, word comes that a power surge at the existing facility that recently took down many state government Web sites and email systems will cost taxpayers $500,000 in overtime, repairs and equipment, according to an AP report in The Olympian.

Reuven Carlyle: A vocal critic of the state's data center operations

A contractor reportedly was working on a high-voltage power line that short-circuited, causing a shut down of the state’s data center for the first time in 20 years,  according to the AP.

State-run data centers have been a sore subject in Olympia for months, with lawmaker Reuven Carlyle one of the biggest critics. In June, Carlyle wrote that his request for a $268 million audit of the Wheeler State Data Center — which has yet to open — was denied.

In a blog post, the state representative wrote that Moore’s Law has overwhelmed the government’s “ability to manage IT spending effectively.”

He continued:

“Moore’s Law points to the idea that technology gets dramatically smaller, cheaper and more efficient with each iteration. Olympia remains trapped in a hardware-centric, proprietary, closed world of massive IT spending instead of a modern, web-centric, low-cost, standards-based software environment. I don’t pretend to have every answer in the IT space as I’m not even an engineer, but I do know a little bit about managing big decisions in this fast-changing space.”

I asked Carlyle for a follow-up to those remarks in light of the recent outage, and here’s what he said:

“My concern on this issue is that the state hasn’t embraced the seriousness of business process reform and management;  they continue to see failures such as this as an equipment or hardware problem when it is usually, of course, a people or business process challenge.

I do not want to see any new requests for funding out of this failure but rather a serious resolve to make it a teachable moment.  Unfortunately, the reason we spend $1.9 billion a biennium on technology in our state is because we’re trapped in proprietary, hardware, silo-based thinking rather than an open, standards-based web centric world of reality.”

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