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Economic Development Administration breaks some windows

An agency of the US Federal Government, the Economic Development Administration, has as its stated aim:

To lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

They also want to make, “Investments that promote job creation and economic prosperity through projects that enhance environmental quality and develop and implement green products, processes, places, and buildings as part of the green economy.”

After discovering malware on some computers, they started destroying all their IT equipment:

EDA’s CIO concluded that the risk, or potential risk, of extremely persistent malware and nation-state activity (which did not exist) was great enough to necessitate the physical destruction of all of EDA’s IT components. EDA’s management agreed with this risk assessment and EDA initially destroyed more than $170,000 worth of its IT components, including desktops, printers, TVs, cameras, computer mice, and keyboards. By August 1, 2012, EDA had exhausted funds for this effort and therefore halted the destruction of its remaining IT components, valued at over $3 million. EDA intended to resume this activity once funds were available. However, the destruction of IT components was clearly unnecessary because only common malware was present on EDA’s IT systems.

The cost of the entire episode, including hiring contractors and obtaining temporary replacement equipment was $2,747,000.

This figure will be added onto the USA’s GDP, of course. But we all know that this is not really an exception to the rule that government agencies do the exact opposite of their stated intentions.

See also coverage of this story at Forbes and The Register.

By the way, does it even make sense to attempt to promote both job creation and economic prosperity in the same breath?

18 comments to Economic Development Administration breaks some windows

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    The Economic Development Administration should its own policies to their logical conclusion and have its staff commit mass suicide. Its wetware has obviously been infected with malicious programming and “nation-state activity”.

    By the way, does it even make sense to attempt to promote both job creation and economic prosperity in the same breath?

    Naturally, removal of the infected EDA wetware would result in both rising general prosperity and also genuine job creation as innovative new industries sprang up in those areas that had been particularly crowded out. When one clears away the weeds, the flowers can grow.

  • Sam Duncan

    What the… ? Televisions? Keyboards? Mice?

    This is nothing less than sacrifice to the Gods by savages. (The American Government’s education system seems to be doing a bang-up job, by the way. Well done, everyone!). Even if the EDA wasn’t already surplus to requirements, the next things to be destroyed – just to be perfectly safe, you understand – should be these morons’ jobs.

  • llamas

    The stupid, it hurts – except if you’re a Federal employee, in which case, mistakes were made, lessons will ne learned, etec, etc, etc, tra-la-la-la-la.



  • PersonFromPorlock

    So, what’s wrong with a BIOS check and a low level format followed by a clean reload? How in Heaven’s name do you corrupt a mouse?

  • KTWO

    There is a definite chance the best equipment went home with the employees. It happens. By now it would have passed to someone else. Hardware starts out with serial numbers but numbers can vanish.

    In the unlikely event a piece is ever identified it won’t matter. As you say ‘mistakes were made”.

  • I guess it beats sacrificing a virgin.

  • Richard Thomas


    Is this the broken Windows fallacy?

  • veryretired

    Alisa—just try finding a virgin among the federal cadres.

    If you think that’s bizarre, check out the years long IRS project to update its computers.

    Billions spent with no workable system to show for it.

    They don’t know what they’re doing.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I’ve heard of planned obselescence- I suppose this is the unplanned type!

  • Everything that comes out of the mouths of government spokespersons is the equivalent of the sincere greeting emitted by HAL2000. That is enough to give pause to what responses might be appropriate.

    Every government mission statement deserves the same consideration. Pause. A very long pause.

  • Bruce

    Not so fast!

    Given what can be recovered from hard drives even after a few “reformats, I suspect that physical destruction was considered necessary to eliminate specific data and file histories.

    What that information could actually be, I leave to your worst fears.

    As for trashing peripherals; that is just the usual statist vandalism.

  • They don’t know what they’re doing.

    They know exactly what they’re doing, Veryretired. They’re raking off the vig.

  • jdm

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this:
    By the way, does it even make sense to attempt to promote both job creation and economic prosperity in the same breath?

    Does this mean it’s not possible to have both at the same? Or that the promotion of both is contradictory? Or that the promotion of one or the other – much less both – by a government agency, any government agency, is pointless?

    I’m am also having trouble believing this story. Destroying equipment sounds like the kind of stupid maliciousness drunks would do egging each other on. But being drunk at “work” in a government agency would probably be a firing offense. If, however, everyone admits to merely being stupidly malicious, that would not be a problem – might even be cause for promotion.

  • llamas

    @Bruce – actually, no.

    We do that kind of work here. There are utilities out there that will absolutely and positively obliterate all data on a hard drive. Guaranteed.

    However, many customers still insist that the drive be physically destroyed – that way, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for anything. You can’t see whether or not a disk has been wiped correctly, but rubble don’t make trouble. And the best drive cleaners take significant time to run – since they repeatedly erase and overwrite every single bit on the disk – and it’s sometimes more cost-effective to install a new drive rather than wipe the old one.

    We shouldn’t be focusing on the destruction, but on the replacement. Cui bono?



  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)
  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    jdm: Of course if they really did promote economic prosperity by just getting the state out of the way, then we might expect to see more people doing useful things and less unemployment, which might be termed “promoting job creation”.

    But what I think *they* mean is have the state intervene and create more jobs, thereby making things more expensive by doing the same stuff with more people, which is the opposite of economic prosperity.

    In some sense what you want to do long term is destroy jobs, to free up people to do new useful things.

    As for believing the story, I linked to the report from a different government department that did the investigation, for what that’s worth.

  • jdm

    Thanks, Rob. Thanks for confirming that I did actually, sort of, figure it out by myself.

    As to the story’s believability, I guess I suspect something’s up – regardless of how well sourced, thank you – when the participants will accept being depicted as the townspeople in the witch scene from MP’s Holy Grail. Similar, in my eyes, to how the IRS’s Cincinnati office was depicted when that scandal broke.

  • Richard Thomas

    No doubt someone’s nephew had a nice juicy contract to replace all the “contaminated” equipment.