The Cable

In About Face, OPM Chief Steps Down Amid Hack Controversy

U.S. human resources chief steps down after hackers make off with data on 25 million.


The White House has for long maintained it had full confidence in Katherine Archuleta, director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, despite a series of massive cyber breaches that resulted in the theft of personal information about nearly 25 million people. On Thursday, Archuleta herself said she wasn’t going anywhere. One day later, she’s out.

The White House announced Archuleta’s departure Friday, with spokesman Josh Earnest insisting that the head of the agency that handles human resources for the federal government had offered her resignation “of her own volition.”

Lawmakers have been calling for Archuleta’s scalp since last month, when news of the first of two hacks broke. That attack compromised personal details like Social Security numbers and addresses of 4.2 million current and former federal workers.

On Thursday, she admitted hackers made off with personal data of 21.5 million workers and people who had applied for government background checks. China is widely believed to have been responsible for that hack, which impacted about seven percent of the U.S. population, as well as the earlier one.

Archuleta’s decision to leave her job is an abrupt about-face from just 24 hours earlier. During a Thursday conference call detailing the extent of the second hack, Archuleta said she wouldn’t stand down, despite calls from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“We have a very aggressive push to enhance our cybersecurity and modernize our systems, and we will continue to do so,” she said Thursday. “I am committed to the work that I am doing at OPM.”

Now that work will be temporarily done by Beth Cobert, the deputy director of management at OPM. In a statement Friday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas said the “buck stops with the OPM director.”

“The new leadership now has the hard task of not only fixing the failures that allowed this to happen, but also earning back the trust of federal government employees and the American public,” he said.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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