By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, July 10, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) announced his agreement with the decision of former Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta to resign, following the massive data breach that resulted in millions of current and former Federal employees having sensitive personal information stolen by international cyber thieves.
Representative Palmer said, “The OPM data breach is a major problem, and we are only beginning to understand the full implications. At a hearing where Director Archuleta was a witness, I asked if it was possible that more than the then-estimated 4 million people were affected, and was not given an answer. The latest estimates are that roughly 21.5 million people were affected, and the number could grow larger.”
Rep. Palmer said, “Director Archuleta has been either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to solve this serious problem. It is appropriate that she has now chosen to step aside and allow someone who is more qualified to take the lead.”
House GOP Leaders released their own statement on the resignation of OPM Director Archuleta. Speaker of the US House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) released a written statement on the resignation of OPM Director Katherine Archuleta:
“The resignation of the OPM director does not in any way absolve the president of the responsibility to repair this damage to our national security. We know from last year’s resignation of the VA secretary that a change in personnel does not always lead to real change. We applaud the work of Chairman Chaffetz and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and we will hold the president accountable for restoring the public’s confidence.”
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta’s departure comes less than 24 hours after GOP leaders called for President Obama to fire her.
In June, 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 then, “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) was the first to call on Archuleta and OPM Chief information officer Donna Seymour to resign over this failure. Chairman Chaffetz said, “Those two had an opportunity to right the ship…they did not get it done, and there should be consequences…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.
Congressman Palmer is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which is attempting to uncover details about the massive data breach.
Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.