City says contractor error caused phone, email outage at Anchorage City Hall

A network outage disrupted work at Anchorage City Hall Wednesday afternoon, with employees losing access to telephones, email, timekeeping and electronic financial systems., the city's website, was also down, including job postings. In an email to city employees, the city's information technology department said the outage began at 11:40 a.m., caused by "power issues" at the city data center on Dimond Boulevard.

Reached on his cellphone at about 2:15 p.m., city ombudsman Darrel Hess said his office hadn't had a phone call in several hours. He also said he was having trouble keeping up with work because he couldn't pull up his electronic case system.

"I've never seen an outage like this," said Hess, who has worked for the city for seven years. "We're at a standstill."

City spokesman Myer Hutchinson said the outage was caused by a "small procedure misstep" by a contractor during a routine sprinkler system check at the South Anchorage data center. The only way the system could be restored was by resetting the sprinklers through a shutdown of the power to the building, where the city's main computers and servers are stored, Hutchinson said.

But Ian Rose of McKinley Fire Suppression, the company doing the sprinkler system check, said the outage was not his company's fault. He said a similar outage occurred a year before.

Hutchinson said systems started coming back online at about 1:30 p.m. He said there was no lasting damage.


The city's 911 system was not affected by the outage, according to a dispatcher who picked up the phone at the Anchorage Police Department.

Some city business was pushed back by the outage. In a bulletin forwarded by Hess, the city's employment office said it would be extending vacant position announcements by a day, because the "job opportunities" portion of the website was unavailable most of Wednesday afternoon.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.