Anyone who works with computers knows there’s no such thing as what state officials referred to last week as a “never event.”
The computer meltdown this month at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment wiped out the state’s access to millions of records in the Office of Vital Statistics and forced KDHE to retrieve old records stored in salt mines in central Kansas to restore the system. As of Friday the diagnosis for the problem was a disk drive malfunction that cascaded through the system and a failure of a storage area network.
Although officials called it a “never event,” a representative of the vendor that sold KDHE its storage system said, “These do happen in technology, regrettably.”
So, knowing that, why wasn’t there been some provision for backing up records on an independent system or some other safeguard for the computer event that never happens but “regrettably” does?
The KDHE secretary apologized last week to Kansans who have been inconvenienced, adding, “We don’t anticipate this ever happening again.” Great, but you didn’t anticipate it happening this time. Are steps being taken to not just restore the system to its previous state but to add upgrades that better protect state data?
Although the KDHE situation appears on the way to being remedied, this data loss should be of no small concern to state officials. Other state government departments have the same type of storage system as KDHE. It may be only a matter of time before they suffer a similar event.