CAGW Applauds the Resignation of OPM Director Katherine Archuleta

For Immediate Release Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318
July 10, 2015  

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) was pleased to see Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta resign due to her incompetence and mismanagement related to the worst cyber attack in U.S. history.

Beginning in May 2014, cyber hackers allegedly linked to the Chinese intelligence service breached the massive OPM database multiple times.  The hackers extracted personal and financial records on more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees and contractors.  This includes information collected in background checks, Social Security numbers, health information and criminal records.  The multiple attacks were first discovered in May of 2015, a year after they began.  OPM announced on July 9, 2015 that “individuals who underwent background investigations in or after the year 2000 are ‘highly likely’ to have had their information compromised in the breach. (This includes both new applicants and employees that were subject to a ‘periodic reinvestigation’ during that time.) But those who were investigated before 2000 also may have been affected.”  The attack has already been dubbed a “Cyber Pearl Harbor.”

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta was appointed on May 23, 2013, after previously serving as National Political Director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.  Archuleta castigated Mitt Romney for possessing “little understanding of what's going on in the 21st century.”  Ironically, her agency is the one woefully behind the tech times. 

OPM did not even have an IT security staff until 2013.  The agency’s inspector general (IG) found in November 2014 that OPM lacked encryption on its records and the ability to track its tech equipment.  The IG said, “The agency also failed to use multi-factor authentication for workers accessing the systems remotely from home or on the road.”  The Director of National Intelligence even warned in a February 26, 2015 report that “cyber threats to U.S. national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity of impact.” 

In the midst of five separate Congressional hearings on this massive security failure, admonishment of Archuleta came from both sides of the political aisle in both chambers.  Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) scolded her in a House hearing on June 16, 2015 saying, “I wish that you were as strenuous and hardworking in keeping information out of the hands of hackers as you are keeping information out of the hands of Congress.”  But Archuleta seemed undeterred and even dismissive about taking responsibility for this disaster.  When questioned on June 23, 2015, she claimed, “I don’t believe anyone is personally responsible.” To be fair, Archuleta also explained, “We have legacy systems that are very old” and “It’s an enterprise-wide problem.”  While that certainly is true, she had failed to adequately fix her broken agency after nearly two years on the job.

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “We are pleased that Ms. Archuleta changed her mind and finally took responsibility for the disaster that occurred on her watch.  Now it is up to her successor to implement the much-needed reforms at OPM so that this kind of incident never happens again.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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