Power Outage Shuts Down Government Agency

Editor's Note: As of Tuesday morning Oct. 23, the National Science Foundation's headquarters and web site were operational again.

Workers at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Va., have been sent home after a power outage forced the entire government agency to close.

The Web site of the NSF, an agency that played a major role in the development of the Internet, is also out of service, with only a brief note explaining the reason for the shutdown. Phone calls to the agency's media spokespeople went unanswered and voicemail failed to pick up.

A person at the agency's media hotline said workers had been sent home for the day.

The NSF created a networking protocal based on TCP/IP that was important in converting the Defense Department's ARPANET into the Internet we use today.

The NSF is a U.S. government agency that determines funding for research and education in science and engineering.

Le-Ha Anderson, a spokesperson for Dominion, the power company that provides electricity to the Arlington area, said the NSF power outage was due to failure of an electrical transformer and a secondary underground cable.

The outage, which began at 1 a.m. Eastern today, affected 17 meters and three addresses, one of which belonged to the NSF.

"We don't know what the root cause of the failure was, but we are on the scene now," Anderson told LiveScience. "We have a new transformer that has already been delivered. We hope to have the light restored by 4 a.m."

Anderson added that such transformer failures happen "very irregularly."