Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta will step down from her post effective Friday according to a White House official — one day after OPM revised the total number of people affected in two hacks divulged last month from 4.2 to 22.1 million.
The number vastly exceeds OPM’s initial estimate of 4.2 million current and former federal government employees, contractors and potential employees, though the vast majority of those whose information was compromised — 21.5 million — came from security clearance background checks. Such sensitive records often include information about applicants’ mental health, sexual relationships and histories with alcohol and substance abuse.
Of the 4.2 million affected by the initial hack and 21.5 million in the second, 3.6 million were caught up in both, bringing to total number of those affected to 22.1 million — the largest hack ever executed against the federal government.
Archuleta reportedly offered her resignation to President Obama personally this morning, saying new leadership was needed to “move beyond the current challenges” facing OPM. Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Beth Cobert will temporarily replace Archuleta until the president selects and the Senate approves a permanent replacement.
Lawmakers across both sides and aisles of Congress renewed calls for Archuleta’s resignation Thursday in response to the revised figure.
“President Obama must take a strong stand against incompetence in his administration and instill new leadership at OPM so we can move forward in a fashion that begins to restore the confidence of the American people,” House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.
“Public trust in how our government is run is already low, and any resolution to this massive data breach and theft can only happen with new leadership at the OPM immediately,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “Only with new leadership can we get a full accounting of what happened and, most importantly, how to prevent this from ever happening again.”
“She’s not qualified to run one of the biggest HR operations in the world. And when it comes to technology, she’s in way, way over her head,” House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz said, adding the Archuleta and her staff’s “negligence has now put the personal and sensitive information of 21.5 million Americans into the hands of our adversaries.”
“Such incompetence is inexcusable.”
“People need to go, starting with the OPM director,” 2016 presidential contender and Flordia Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said.
Congressional Republicans weren’t the only ones calling for Archuleta’s ouster. While Democrats in the House called on Archultea to step down or be fired after the first hearing discussing the hack last month, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, whose state is home to a large number of federal employees, became the first Democrat in the upper chamber to call on President Obama to replace the OPM director.
“The technological and security failures at the Office of Personnel Management predate this director’s term, but director Archuleta’s slow and uneven response has not inspired confidence that she is the right person to manage OPM through this crisis,” Warner said in a statement.
“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.”
Archuleta, who has been fighting to keep her job since last month, said she was dedicated to seeing the crisis through during a conference call Thursday, and added she has asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Office of Management and Budget to execute a 90-day review of OPM’s security, which agency inspector general reports have repeatedly cited as weak and vulnerable since 2007.
At the time the OPM director said she had no plans to fire OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, whose office housed systems breached in the hack.
“I am committed to the work that I am doing at OPM,” Archuleta said. “We are working very hard not only at OPM but across the government to ensure the cybersecurity of all our systems.”
The White House initially defended Archuleta, whom President Obama described as the “right person for the job” according to a June statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper maintains China is the “leading suspect” in the breach, though the administration has yet to publicly assign blame for the hack.
The Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday it will offer three years of free free credit monitoring and protection for victims of stolen data, which includes Social Security numbers, dates of birth and even fingerprints for more than 1 million Americans caught up in the second breach.
Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Tim Kaine and Warner of Virginia — states boasting large numbers of federal employees — said that doesn’t go far enough, and introduced legislation known as the RECOVER Act Thursday mandating lifetime identify-theft coverage for federal employees and contractors, along with a minimum of $5 million in identity theft insurance.