Oversight subpoenas OPM for hack information

Oversight subpoenas OPM for hack information
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The House Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena seeking documents related to last summer’s massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Oversight Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzGuess who’s stumping for states' rights? GOP Rep. Gowdy slams Trump team for 'amnesia' on Russia meetings California Dem sworn in as House member after delay MORE (R-Utah) said his panel was forced to take the step because top OPM officials were refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the hacks, which exposed over 20 million people’s sensitive information.

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“We made a commitment to the American people to ensure a hack of this nature never happens again,” Chaffetz said Wednesday evening. “The documents we've repeatedly requested be provided to this committee are essential to fulfilling that promise.”

He specifically called out the agency’s acting director, Beth Cobert, who took over in June after former OPM Director Katherine Archuleta resigned amid the fallout from the digital intrusions.

"OPM, under Ms. Cobert's leadership, is not cooperating with the committee's investigation,” Chaffetz said.

The agency has consistently maintained it is trying to work with the committee on its inquiry.

The subpoena comes at a poor time for Cobert, who is scheduled to have her nomination hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday.

President Obama in November tapped Cobert to be the OPM’s permanent director, four months after she took over in the wake of the OPM hacks.

Given her background in information technology acquisition at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Cobert was seen as a leader better capable of righting the OPM’s digital shortcomings.

Chaffetz praised the selection at the time.

"In my initial meetings with Beth Cobert, she has impressed me as a talented, qualified and competent choice for OPM director,” he said. “I am pleased the president has opted for a credible selection this time rather than a political one.”

But his tune changed on Wednesday.

“Despite assurances of cooperation, I'm disappointed Ms. Cobert is not working in good faith with the committee,” Chaffetz said.

The agency noted it has hired additional staff and brought over employees from other agencies just to quicken the response time to the high volume of congressional requests.

OPM has received over 170 letters from members of Congress related to cybersecurity incidents, according to a spokesman. OPM officials have also conducted 13 classified and unclassified briefings with members of Congress, and produced tens of thousands of documents in response to congressional requests.

The Oversight chairman has been perhaps the most vocal critic of OPM leadership since the agency revealed the hacks in early June.

After initial indications the hack had only exposed a subset of federal workers’ personnel files, the OPM investigation eventually concluded that roughly 20 million security clearance background check forms had been compromised. Those forms are considered some of the most sensitive documents the government maintains.

Since then, Chaffetz has kept up his investigation to determine the exact timeline of the hacks and exactly what was stolen, sending letters to a number of agencies, including OPM.

“We’ve been asking for months,” Chaffetz said at a January hearing. “When will we get 100 percent of those requests?”

An OPM official said the agency has tried to cooperate on every question, adding that more documents would be forthcoming.

The agency noted it has hired additional staff and brought over employees from other agencies just to quicken the response time to the high volume of congressional requests.

The OPM has received over 170 letters from members of Congress related to cybersecurity incidents, according to a spokesman.

OPM officials have also conducted 13 classified and unclassified briefings with members of Congress, and produced tens of thousands of documents in response to congressional requests.

On Wednesday, the Utah Republican said the efforts have not been enough.

“I will use all available remedies to obtain the information needed to conduct a thorough and meaningful investigation,” he said.