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CalAccess has crashed for the second time in a little over a week, blocking online public access to lobbying records and campaign finance disclosure reports.

The page hosting the database, part of the Secretary of State website, went offline this morning, affecting both the viewing and filing of reports.

Nicole Winger, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, said the agency's information technology staff is trying to pinpoint the problem to get the site back up and running as soon as possible. She said the database does not appear to be compromised.

"What the technology staff can see is that the database is safe and the rest of our website is working. It's the internet availability of the database," she said.

The site, which campaign committees use to file electronic spending and contribution reports, had come back online Wednesday after being down a full week. Part of the cause of that crash was a failed memory module that needed to be replaced with out-of-date parts. Tracking down that hardware and finding someone who knew how to fix it took some time, Winger said.

"Because this hardware is so old and there are few specialists in the nation who know how to work with it our office had to track one of them down and get them out here on an emergency contract," she said.

It's not yet clear whether today's issues are directly related to a hardware problem that took the reporting database offline earlier this week, but Winger said the age of the 12-year-old system is a likely factor in the ongoing site issues.

"At the core of this story still is ancient hardware, very old technology," she said.

A complete overhaul, she said, would cost $10 to $20 million, while Wednesday's repair is expected to set the office back less than $10,000.

Filers can still submit reports via mail or hand delivery while the database is unavailable, though Winger said electronic filers will not be punished for missing reporting deadlines because of the site issues.She said at the agency's political reform division is available to aid both filers and members of the public seeking campaign information.

"We understand the frustration," she said of the second crash. "People value the online access to this information and it just proves how constantly valuable this information is to the media and the public."

The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this report.


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