The price tag to repair San Francisco’s internal fiber-optic network has reached $1 million as a result of the alleged tampering by a former city network administrator whose work history includes close ties to the corporation tasked with repairing the system.
Terry Childs, the 43-year-old network administrator arrested on suspicion of withholding the passwords to The City’s central network, is facing up to seven years in state prison on four felony counts of computer tampering.
To repair the damage allegedly done by Childs, The City has already doled out $182,000 in contract work to Cisco Systems, said Ron Vinson of the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services. Another $15,000 has gone to overtime for about a dozen city employees.
But another $800,000 in costs, mostly labor, has already been incurred by The City and has yet to be paid for, Vinson said. All the costs are currently coming out of the technology department’s budget, prompting an “emergency procurement procedure” from San Francisco Chief Information Officer Chris Vein.
“I believe it is likely that the department will be seeking a supplemental appropriation within the fiscal year to address one-time and ongoing funding requirements,” Vein said in a letter to the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 6.
The District Attorney’s Office is calling for Childs to reimburse The City for all expenses.
Prosecutors allege Childs had plotted to bring city services to a grinding halt by destroying the network he helped create, while the defense has argued Childs is a capable and ethical worker who was protecting the system from incompetent managers.
Childs’ experience working with networks began before he was employed by The City. After becoming certified by Cisco Systems, Childs worked with Network Instruments LLC and Cisco Systems on network-analysis tools for about six months before losing the job.
Sources familiar with Childs’ employment at Network Instruments said Childs reapplied from San Francisco County Jail after his July 13 arrest despite worries among city officials that he could communicate with a third party to collapse The City’s network. The application was rejected.
“There’s nothing illegal about sending out communications,” said Eileen Hurst, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department. “Generally speaking, we do not read incoming or outgoing mail but we do monitor what is being sent inside and outside the jails.”
As for Childs’ previous employment, both Cisco Systems and Network Instruments declined to comment on the personnel issue.
Hefty repair costs
The total cost to repair the breakdown of The City’s internal network is almost $1 million.
$997,000: Total cost to The City to date
$800,000: Costs incurred but yet to be paid
$182,000: Costs incurred and already paid
$15,000: Costs paid to city workers for overtime