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PLCB Systems Down, Snarling Supply Chain; Agency Sees No Evidence Of Hack

October 9, 2020

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s online inventory allocation system is down as part of a wider outage affecting government IT services in the state. Last Saturday, the state identified an equipment failure at a Unisys data center that serves the commonwealth. For the PLCB, the service outage has taken the special order system, the finewineandgoodspirits.com online store, and licensee order systems offline, hampering the flow of wine and spirits to licensees throughout the state. Consumers are still able to shop in-store.

“Our business and technology teams are working to restore service as soon as possible, although we don’t know yet when the commonwealth hardware issue will be resolved,” said Shawn Kelly, spokesperson for the PLCB. “We have no evidence of any system breaches or data compromises.”

According to one Pennsylvania distributor, who claimed 20% of sales for the month are in jeopardy due to the system failure, there has been little information provided to licensees since Monday, October 5. The distributor added that this outage and lack of communication comes at an especially bad time, given the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry.

The PLCB was not able to offer a specific timetable for service restoration and did not provide SND with any information about a contingency plan to help Pennsylvania licensees do business in the meantime. In the statement sent to licensees on Monday, the PLCB said that it did not expect service to be restored before the end of this week.

The PLCB’s sales, including liquor and sales taxes, declined 4.2% to $2.56 billion in its fiscal year through June, but net income jumped 9.2% to $209 million. The PLCB fully shuttered its retail operations for a period last spring amid a spike in Covid infections, weighing down sales for the year.—Shane English

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