Pennsylvania state employee accidentally deleted thousands of records

A Pennsylvania Office of Administration employee was fired after accidentally deleting files that included evidence logs from the state's crime labs.
delete option on screen
(Getty Images)

Pennsylvania’s Office of Administration this week admitted that human error caused the deletion of thousands of records stored on the state’s servers earlier this month.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s Office of Administration, which oversees information technology services for most state agencies, also manages the data housed on state government servers. According to a statement by Dan Egan, press secretary for the Office of Administration, on Jan. 3, an employee was performing routine server maintenance and accidentally deleted data from two applications used by the Pennsylvania State Police to manage and log evidence submissions, and by the State Employee Retirement System for the Keystone User Login, an account management system.

In the past three weeks following the incident, Egan said, the Office of Administration and the Pennsylvania State Police were able to restore access to nearly all of the deleted data, which was limited to the Bureau of Forensics and includes evidence logs from the department’s crime labs. 

“All physical evidence tracked and cataloged by the PSP remains secure and was never endangered,” Egan told StateScoop.


On Jan. 11, more than a week after the files were deleted, the Pennsylvania State Police notified law enforcement officials and all district attorney offices, in accordance with Laboratory Accreditation standards, which operates within the National Institute of Justice and outlines safety requirements and quality assurance standards. In the U.S, most crime labs operate under a nationally recognized accrediting body or under programs that meet international requirements.

Myles Snyder, communications director for the Pennsylvania State Police, said in an email that as of Jan. 15, one of the two applications affected by the data deletion, which is used to track evidence, is back online and accepting new evidence submissions.

“PSP is currently operating on a temporary system for tracking and receiving evidence, to ensure that law enforcement partners and state police investigations and prosecutions can continue without disruption” Snyder said in a statement to StateScoop. “The department and Office of Administration are still working to restore the other system.”

Though state officials confirmed a majority of the deleted data had been restored, the Pennsylvania PBS radio affiliate WHYY reported that some records remain lost and that it’s unclear if they can be recovered.

WHYY also reported that an employee working in the Office of Administration was fired over the incident.


“OA took immediate action internally to address this incident and is conducting a thorough review and update of information technology policies, procedures, processes, and controls to prevent this kind of human error from happening again,” Egan said.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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