Because the shutdown lasted so long, it took more time than expected to get the NIST infrastructure back to full operational status. Although the NIST team was able to get basic services up and running before employees returned to work, secondary and financial systems took longer to restore.
The real challenge wasn’t in firing the systems back up, Huergo says, “but making sure that the data that had accumulated in feeder systems during the furlough was properly processed and the systems were current. That required us to follow a plan that takes several days to complete.”
GSA Gets Data.gov Site Back Online Quickly
The General Services Administration IT team also ran into unexpected issues. Despite working from documented guidance and best practices, the team struggled to take Data.gov, home to more than 200,000 government open-data sets, offline. Because the site is not static and constantly takes in data, it needs to be consistently monitored by staff that are subject to furlough.
The process of taking the site down required coordination with personnel outside of the team, some of whom were not available within that short window.
As a result, “parts of that process were not able to be completed within the few hours we had allotted for orderly shutdown. The complete shutdown required more time,” says GSA spokesperson Matthew Burrell.
Once Data.gov went dark, however, the Data.gov team was able to maintain site security and integrity, and when the government reopened, the team brought the site back online immediately.
“Updates to the site, including the addition of new data sets from agency sources, resumed shortly thereafter,” Burrell says.
Government Shutdown Has Ripple Effects for IT
Where the shutdown proved most problematic was in IT contracting support, acquisition, modernization and hiring, according to Jonathan Alboum, former CIO of the Department of Agriculture.
“Unfortunately, in anything that involves people and process, a five-week delay is never a five-week delay,” he says. “It’s 10 weeks, 20 weeks or even longer. After the shutdown, agencies have had to play catch up.”