External hard disks and even internal memory storage in some computers are also reportedly missing. “We have prepared internal circulars in this regard and the same has been brought to the notice of senior government officials seeking a detailed investigation. It is up to the government to take it forward through the vigilance department,” a government official told DT Next.
Officials added that computers used for municipal administration, Public Works Department, Highways, Public Health and In-formation Department were found formatted without data backups. However, getting details will not be an issue as most files have a manual data back up in the department sections and audits, but tracking and searching these files will be a cumbersome process taking several months.
This newspaper also went through a confidential circular which specifically mentioned 50 files related to the payment vouchers (during 2017 -2020) that have gone missing. Most of the computers used in the secretariat are HP, Lenovo and Dell equipped with large memory hard disks and drives, sources confirmed.
“On May 8, when I switched on the computer, I noticed all the drives empty and the system had no files or any official communication data. We had to incorporate details afresh from the very next day,” said a Health Department official. In some cases, newly appointed personal and office assistants found it difficult to work as printers, wall clocks, furniture, utensils – kettle, oven and stationery - were missing.
“Most of these items were purchased on government receipts,” a government staff at a Minister’s chamber rued. “For the first two days, we were not able to serve even tea to visitors. Now, office essentials have been purchased to administer the Minister’s office,” the staffer added.When contacted, a senior government official said that the usual practice is to purchase computers and digital accessories through Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), but every department has a list of private agencies that take up the maintenance of these government computers at the Secretariat and other government departments. “Very few departments have in-house system engineers,” the official noted.