June 29, 2015

THE OPM HACK AND OBAMA’S POLITICIZATION OF THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY: Jim Geraghty writes at National Review Online that “it’s clear that hackers — believed to be tied to the Chinese government – stole files from the Office of Personnel Management that amount to a giant ‘how to blackmail anyone in the federal government’ manual. This was America’s ‘cyber 9/11,’ exposing an administration full of true believers in the expansion of government who can’t handle the most basic tasks of secret-keeping.”

Including Katherine Archuleta, who prior to becoming OPM’s head, “had no background in the kind of work the agency does,”  Geraghty adds. But she certainly was a loyal Democrat foot soldier, which is far more important than actual competence in the Clinton and Obama administrations:

Before becoming the head of OPM, Katherine Archuleta had no background in the kind of work the agency does. Archuleta, a lawyer and former Clinton administration official, was national political director for President Obama’s reelection campaign. She served as the chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís, and was the City of Denver’s lead planner for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Like the president, she has roots in “community organizing”: She co-founded the Latina Initiative, a Colorado organization aimed at getting more Hispanic voters involved in politics. (In 2011, the Latina Initiative suspended its operations, citing insufficient funding.) Nothing in this record suggests any expertise in the vitally important human resources and record-keeping functions OPM is supposed to serve.

Before the hack, Archuleta’s primary goals at OPM appeared to be increasing the diversity of the federal workforce and implementing Obamacare’s changes to federal workers’ health-insurance options.

Her July 2013 confirmation hearing was brief and relatively controversy-free. Senator Mark Udall, (D., Colo.), introduced her and declared, “she has an impressive range of accomplishments that make her completely, totally well-qualified to be director of OPM.”

Archuleta mentioned her determination to “build on OPM’s health care experience” including “implementing its provisions of the Affordable Care Act.” She did say she would “prioritize the improvement of the agency’s Information Technology systems” and pledge to create the position of Chief Technology Officer, but that came in the context of a discussion on OPM’s difficulty in moving to a digital system for handling retirement services for federal workers. The topic of cyber security only came up during a brief discussion of whether OPM had sufficiently skilled personnel in that area.

“When news broke of the first of those breaches, in early 2014, Archuleta went so far as to insist in public that there was nothing that needed fixing,” Geraghty writes, noting that “Archuleta was quick to downplay the breach, declaring in a July 21, 2014 interview with Washington’s ABC affiliate that, ‘We did not have a breach in security. There was no information that was lost. We were confident as we worked through this that we would be able to protect the data.’”

There is no iceberg; the ship is perfectly fine; you can resume your dining and dancing without fear. Happy sailing and enjoy the rest of your evening!

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