US Personnel Chief Resists Calls to Resign Amid Data Hack – ABC News
The head of the U.S. government’s personnel office is rejecting bipartisan calls for her resignation following revelations that hackers stole the personal information of more than 21 million people on her watch.
Katherine Archuleta, director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, said she has no plans to step down and is committed to continuing her work. The White House, which had previously said President Barack Obama was confident in Archuleta’s leadership, said there was no change in its position.
The escalating calls for Archuleta to be replaced came as the Obama administration disclosed on Thursday that the number of people affected by the federal breach — believed to be the biggest in U.S. history — was far higher than previously reported.
Hackers downloaded Social Security numbers, health histories or other highly sensitive data from OPM’s databases, affecting more than five times the 4.2 million people the government first disclosed this year. Since then, the administration acknowledged a second, related breach of systems housing private data that individuals submit during background investigations to obtain security clearances.
Although the government declined to name the hackers, officials said the same party was responsible for both hacks. Numerous U.S. lawmakers who have been briefed on the federal investigation have pointed the finger at China.
Word that the breach was far more severe than previously acknowledged drew indignation from members of Congress who have said the administration has not done enough to protect personal data in their systems, as well as calls for Archuleta and her top deputies to resign. House Republican leaders — Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise — called for Archuleta’s resignation, and Boehner said the president must “take a strong stand against incompetence.”
Even some members of Obama’s own party, usually reluctant to criticize the administration, joined the call for Archuleta to go. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia decried Archuleta for a “slow and uneven response” that he said had undermined confidence in her abilities.
“It is time for her to step down, and I strongly urge the administration to choose new management with proven abilities to address a crisis of this magnitude with an appropriate sense of urgency and accountability,” Warner said.
Among the data the hackers stole: criminal, financial, health, employment and residency histories, as well as information about their families and acquaintances. The second, larger attack affected more than 19 million people who applied for clearances, as well as nearly 2 million of their spouses, housemates and others.
“Such incompetence is inexcusable,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, in repeating his calls for Archuleta’s resignation. Chaffetz said Archuleta and her aides had “consciously ignored the warnings and failed to correct these weaknesses.”
Yet Archuleta insisted Thursday she would not step down, telling reporters during a conference call, “I am committed to the work that I am doing.”
“I truly understand the impact this has on our current and former employees, our military personnel and our contractors,” she added.