OPM Director Steps Down After Admitting 22 Million Hacked on Her Watch

Illustration for article titled OPM Director Steps Down After Admitting 22 Million Hacked on Her Watch

After confirming that over 22 million people had their personal information stolen in the largest government digital data breach, Office of Personnel Management director Katherine Archuleta has resigned.


As late as last night, Archuleta had insisted she wouldn’t step down from office, despite calls from Congress. Beth Cobert, deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget, will step into the mess as interim director, according to the New York Times:

Ms. Archuleta went to the White House on Friday morning to personally inform Mr. Obama of her decision, saying that she felt new leadership was needed at the federal personnel agency to enable it to “move beyond the current challenges,” the official said. The president accepted her resignation.

China is considered a primary suspect in the investigation into the theft, but there’s no hard evidence linking it to the hack. Also unknown: what the thieves wanted with the stolen personnel information. In addition to social security numbers and fingerprints, the thieves took elaborate security clearance dossiers with intimate details about employees’ histories, including drug use and relationships.

[New York Times]

Photo: AP


Even as I am one of those who is on the likely hacked list (government employee, identity theft protection was offered to me when they only admitted it was 4M people), I have never really understood the desire or function for these sacrificial lambs. First, as Director, she may be nominally responsible for everything that goes on under her, but it isn’t like she personally was handling the security and left the door open. I actually hope that their internal watchdog is conducting an investigation to see if there really is someone to blame (appropriately), and if that is the case, to show them the door. Second, she, and other OPM Directors, and other Directors and equivalents have been testifying to Congress for years about our vulnerabilities to hacking, yet were specifically not allocated sufficient funds to fix the issue. Where are the people calling for the heads of Congress? It’s all well and good to have someone to blame, but when you control the pursestrings, it’s also pretty damn hypocritical.

Third, and this is just a personal thought: if you really feel that someone is responsible for a big mess, why give them the quick out by showing them the door? Keep them on until the mess is fixed. Make them help fix it. She isn’t being fired for being grossly incompetent, I’m sure she is still a fine manager, she can be part of the solution. We don’t let kids make a mess and then not have to clean it up, why let adults?

Personally, I feel very sorry for her. Something bad happened on her watch, and it really could have happened on anyone’s. We’re not talking about incompetence or negligence. Now her life and family are thrown into complete turmoil, just so politicians can be seen to have been “doing something”, which is really blaming after the fact for a much bigger issue than she could have controlled.