By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, June 16, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) released a statement after questioning government officials at a hearing on a recent data breach of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that became public on June 4.
US Representative Gary Palmer said that, “The breach of data at OPM is a major blow to America’s national security, as well as the personal security of millions of Americans. Also troubling is that OPM has not been transparent concerning the number of people at risk or who is at risk due to this breach.”
Palmer said, “Members of my Congressional staff received letters in the mail saying their information may have been compromised. Yet they do not fit OPM’s publicly announced criteria for who is at risk. OPM needs to take immediate action to increase safeguards on this information, minimize the damage from this breach and be straightforward with Congress and the American people, particularly those who are now at risk due to this breach.”
On June 4, OPM announced a data breach that affected approximately four million former and current government employees. Palmer said that the hearing however confirmed that the breach may have been much larger and many more people’s personal information may be at risk.
The Washington Post is reporting that the major hack has been traced to hackers working for Chinese Intelligence. OPM officials maintain that the investigation is secret and they can’t discuss the details of the ongoing investigation’s findings.
The Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) called on top level government officials to resign over this latest failure. Chairman Chaffetz said, “Those two had an opportunity to right the ship…they did not get it done, and there should be consequences.” Rep. Chaffetz after the hearing said that Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta and the agency’s chief information officer, Donna Seymour should both resign.
“I think it’s time for them to resign, and if they don’t, I think the president should fire them,” he said.” Rep. Chaffetz said to reporters present, “If we want a different results, we’re going to have to have different people.”
The Chinese hack of federal personnel files reportedly included the security-clearance database.
OPM was reportedly warned repeatedly by the agency’s inspector general to make computer security upgrades, but the work was not finished.
Rep. Chaffetz told Archuleta, “The data was not encrypted.” The inspector general “recommended you make changes. You didn’t. The information was vulnerable, and the hackers got it. I want to know why.”
Donna Seymour, OPM’s chief information officer, told the committee that they still haven’t figured out how many employees had their data taken. The data reportedly contains information gleaned about the employee over their entire careers with the government.
Archuleta admitted to lawmakers that to this point no one has been fired for their role in the scandal.
Original reporting by the ‘Washington Post’s Lisa Rein and ‘The Hill’s Cory Bennett contributed to this report.
Congressman Gary Palmer is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This is his first term in the Congress representing Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.