Katherine Archuleta Steps Down From OPM Over Massive Data Breach

By on 13/07/2015
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the independent agency of the United States government that manages the civil service of the federal government

The chief of the U.S. federal hiring office resigned on Friday after massive computer hacks at the agency that put the personal data of more than 22m Americans at risk.

The White House said Katherine Archuleta had stepped down as head of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and that OPM was enhancing cyber-security measures, such as limiting the number of “privileged users” of computer data.

Archuleta, who was facing mounting pressure from Congress to quit, said in a statement she had told President Barack Obama it was “best for me to step aside and allow new leadership to step in, enabling the agency to move beyond the current challenges and allowing the employees at OPM to continue their important work.”

She visited the White House personally on Friday morning to deliver her resignation to President Obama.

She also said in her statement: “Leading this agency has been the highlight of my career. The OPM family is comprised of some of the most dedicated, capable and hardworking individuals in the Federal Government.

“While we have accomplished much together, in particular, I’m proud of the work we have done to develop the REDI initiative (a recruitment, engagement, diversity and inclusion programme to improve the quality of the federal workforce) and our IT Strategic Plan. Both of these efforts have transformed our ability to serve our customer agencies and ensure that the Federal Government is able to attract, hire, engage and develop a talented and diverse federal workforce.

“I am honoured to have led this organisation and to have served alongside the incredible team at OPM. I have complete confidence in their ability to continue fulfil OPM’s important mission of recruiting, retaining and honouring a world-class workforce to serve the American People.”

Beth Cobert, who works in the White House budget office, will become acting OPM director.

OPM announced on Thursday that the size of a hack which began last year led to the theft of sensitive personal information of 21.5m former and current employees.

The admission followed a previous announcement that a separate data breach had affected 4.2m.

The United States has identified China as the leading suspect, but China’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed that as “absurd logic.”

Archuleta’s departure came a day after Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying that he had “no confidence” in OPM’s current leadership.

Archuleta, a high-ranking official in Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, was appointed to the top OPM job in May 2013 and sworn in the following November, becoming the first Latina to head the federal agency.

David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said Archuleta’s resignation is “not a solution to the damage that has been done” to the more than 22m people impacted by the two separate hacks of OPM data.

“Firing one individual solves nothing,” Cox said on news site Government Executive. “Congress should recognize that preventing future breaches requires funding. Budget austerity has consequences, and we’re seeing one of them right now.”

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World – the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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