In Short

Internet outage hit Oregon agencies, Legislature delayed

By: - June 21, 2023 10:38 am

An internet outage Wednesday stalled work in the Legislature and capital. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

UPDATE at 12:30 p.m.: Internet service has been restored at the Capitol. The House and Senate plan to resume at 1 p.m.

Multiple state agencies are experiencing internet outages, hindering employees from doing their jobs and blocking the Legislature from making progress on hundreds of bills.

An email sent to state employees Wednesday morning by the Department of Administrative Services described the issue as beginning at 7 a.m. and as a “SEV-1,” or severity level one, event. That’s considered a critical event and made it the top priority for state technology staff to fix. 

The issue included remote connectivity outages and blocked legislative employees from using their Office applications, the email said. The department next planned to update state staff at 11 a.m.

The outage postponed scheduled House and Senate floor sessions, first until 11 a.m. and now until at least 12 p.m., with the possibility that delays will take longer. The chambers could proceed without the internet by printing bills, but members of the public wouldn’t be able to watch live proceedings.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, told a smattering of lawmakers, staff and reporters in the House chamber that they should return at noon. House staff urged lawmakers not to leave the building.

“We’ll ask everybody to come back to the chamber at noon with high hopes and great expectations,” Gomberg said.

Landlines in the Capitol were also down because they operate over the internet, leaving staff to carry messages back and forth between the House and Senate because their phones and state email weren’t working.

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services had no immediate further details, other than that there’s an “intermittent connectivity issue.” The agency’s Enterprise Information Services, which oversees cybersecurity, is investigating the issue, a spokesperson said.

At the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, staff handling calls for emergencies pivoted from logging calls on computers to taking down information with pens and paper, said Chris Crabb, a spokesperson for the agency. The switch will not delay resources to any emergencies, Crabb said.

“We are still covered, just not able to do electronically,” Crabb said.

Through its Oregon Emergency Response System, the agency coordinates resources for emergencies like natural disasters, search and rescue operations and landslides that can block a highway.

The outage also affected the state’s campaign finance system and business registry, the Secretary of State’s Office announced on Twitter.

State employees at the Capitol initially believed the outage was caused by a firewall update, repeating that throughout the building. However, that was unfounded and officials don’t have any reason to believe that a firewall update caused the outage, said Andrea Chiapella, a spokesperson for the Department of Administrative Services.

-Reporter Ben Botkin contributed to this article

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.