After accidental data deletion, Pennsylvania CIO approves emergency hire of IT consultant

Pennsylvania's chief information officer approved the emergency hire of Layer Aleph, a Seattle company specializing in crisis engineering.
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Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s Office of Administration, which oversees information technology services for state agencies and manages the data housed on state government servers, recently hired an IT consultant firm following an incident earlier this month in which thousands of records stored on the state’s servers were deleted.

State Chief Information Officer Amaya Capellan approved an emergency procurement on Jan. 19, citing a “threat to public health, welfare, or safety,” as the reason to hire Layer Aleph, a Seattle company specializing in crisis engineering, for a 30-day contract totaling $530,000, as first reported by Penn Live.

“Without the immediate restructuring of core technical systems and organizational functions, many Agency and Enterprise services could be at risk resulting in impacts to agencies and citizens,” the procurement form states.

Layer Aleph claims to have “wide-ranging experience in system rescue and service restoration,” and experience working with both the private and public sector to fix “systems that ended up in the news,” according to the company’s website.


On Jan. 3, an employee in the Office of Administration 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.

The Office of Administration and the Pennsylvania State Police restored 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. However, the Pennsylvania PBS radio affiliate WHYY reported that some state records are still lost and may not be recoverable.

Officials have not disclosed which systems Layer Aleph will prioritize. Neither the Pennsylvania Office of Administration nor Capellan responded to requests for comment.

But the emergency procurement form stressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “Timing is a factor because critical Agency and Enterprise services could be at risk if issue is not resolved immediately. The Commonwealth systems and data could be at risk for application outages and data loss, immediate resolution is needed.”

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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