The inspector general of the Commerce Department is reviewing the causes of a computer virus and how a small development agency responded to it.

In January, a virus infected the network of the Economic Development Administration, which issues business development grants to economically depressed communities. The virus was so potent that the agency pulled itself from the Internet. Employees did without e-mail, scanned documents and searches, and relied on the postal service and fax machines. Despite the lack of online access, the department issued more than $36 million in grants during the blackout.

The inspector general’s review will assess the office's information technology program, what caused the problem, the office’s response to the virus and whether it has accomplished its goals to reinstitute its system.

The review is part of the inspector general’s annual information security audit.