State election director Sandy Steinbach reports that all of the voting machines in Iowa were tested by Ciber laboratory. Ciber has now been barred from further testing by the federal Election Assistance Commission(EAC). The EAC action was taken in July but kept secret until the New York Times broke the story last week. According to the Times, Ciber was suspended because it “was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.”
Steinbach was until recently an overseer of Ciber and two other test labs(ITAs), in that she directed the volunteer voting technology board for the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). The NASED board was supplanted by the EAC last summer. Steinbach said her NASED board over the years
noted deficiencies in ITA reports and returned reports to the test labs for additional documentation on numerous occasions. . . .NASED . . .[had] neither the authority nor the resources to go in and audit the labs
Steinbach characterizes the 2006 decision of the EAC to bar Ciber this way:
These labs have to, first, be certified by [the National Institute for Standards and Technology] and then comply with the EAC criteria. These criteria contain
extensive administrative requirements as well as technical requirements. . . . The reason that the Ciber did not receive EAC certification was the administrative requirements. Ciber’s technical capability is not in question.
Ciber may indeed be technically savvy, as Steinbach believes. But if they weren’t documenting that they did the testing they said they were doing, well, then maybe they weren’t actually doing it. Maybe those savvy techicians were busy elsewhere since NASED had no way to double check. Stranger things have happened.
Software tester John Washburn suspects Ciber’s work, too. He cites a list of questionable work by Ciber and discusses the certification process that Ciber flunked. John Gideon has even more on the EAC decision.