State Dept. database crash leads to passport, visa delays

Agency blames crash on maintenance, not sabotage

A U.S. State Department database used to issue passports and visas worldwide that crashed and was taken offline, is now operating in a limited capacity, an official said today.

The Consular Consolidated Database, which holds tens of millions of visa cases and photographs, has been described by the government as one of the largest Oracle-based warehouses in the world.

The outage prompted some U.S. consulates, including one in Russia, to post apologies on their websites to people who are experiencing delays or are unable to obtain passports.

Marie Harf, a state department spokeswoman, said at a briefing that the department is "working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational soon.

"We do not believe there was any malicious action or anything untoward here -- this was a technical issue," said Harf. The problem occurred shortly after maintenance on the database took place.

Harf wasn't able to immediately answer questions about exactly when the problem began, but she said it may have been several days ago.

There is now a backlog, and government officials "were working through it," said Harf. "We ask people to be patient."

There was no estimate on how long it will take to clear the backlog.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at  @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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