While the nation was focused on vitally important issues like transgenderism, transracialism, and transpresidentialism, yesterday a mini drama was unfolding at a House Oversight hearing over the trivial matter of the Office of Personnel Management networks hack that compromised records of up to 14 million current and former U.S. government employees going back to the 1980s.
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee is asking the leadership of the Office of Personnel Management to resign amid rolling revelations about a massive hack of personal data stored by the agency that has affected millions of former and current federal employees.
“If they don’t,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz said, “I think the president should fire them.”
“If we want a different result, we’re gonna have to have different people,” Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, told reporters Tuesday after attending a classified briefing for House members where OPM officials discussed the breach.
Chaffetz singled out OPM Director Katherine Archuleta and OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, both of whom testified earlier in the day before his committee about the hack of its systems that officials have privately blamed on China. The breach exposed the data of at least 4.2 million individuals, though several lawmakers have suggested it could be far higher.
Few members of Congress had come out to publicly call for OPM resignations, but the desire was echoed across party lines Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who holds a computer science degree from Stanford, condemned a “high level of technological incompetence” across government and noted that when other agencies are beset by scandal, high-ranking officials often are forced to step down.
“I’m looking here today for a few good people to step forward, take responsibility, and resign for the good of the nation,” Lieu said.
On the OPM website, Archuleta is touted as “a long-time public servant, who has distinguished herself as a leader on human resources and management policy in a variety of senior positions in local and Federal government.” She was appointed by President Obama on May 23, 2013, making her “the first Latina to head this federal agency.”
Roll Call compiled a video of some of the “lowlights” from the hearing featuring Director Archuleta getting grilled by members of both parties and struggling to provide an explanation for the epic failure of her agency to secure its systems.
“Why wasn’t this information encrypted?” Chairman Chaffetz asked at one point during the hearing.
“Um….encryption is one of the many tools that systems can use – I’ll look to my colleagues at DHS for their response,” Archuleta answered.
“No, I want to know from you – why wasn’t the information encrypted?” Chaffetz pressed. “This personal, sensitive information – birthdays, social security numbers, background information and addresses. Why wasn’t it encrypted?”
Reading from her notes, Archuleta answered, “data encryption is a valuable…”
“Yeah, it’s valuable!” Chaffetz shot back. “Why wasn’t it?”
Undeterred, Archuleta continued reciting her answer, “…and is an industry best practice. In fact, our cyber-security framework promotes encryption as a key protection method.”
“We didn’t ask you to come and read statements,” Chaffetz said laughing. “I want to know why you didn’t encrypt the information.”
Apparently, “it’s not feasible to encrypt on networks that are too old” so OPM is “taking other steps”…etc etc.
“Okay, well it didn’t work,” said Chaffetz summing it up nicely. “So you failed.”