OPM stands by security upgrade amid critiques

OPM stands by security upgrade amid critiques

Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta pushed back against a recent government “flash audit” that admonished the agency’s much-touted network modernization plan as poorly budgeted and managed.

“These projects are ongoing, on schedule, and on budget,” Archuleta told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, referring to a proposed $91 million update.

ADVERTISEMENT

The comments were Archuleta’s first since a “flash audit” performed by the OPM’s inspector general (IG) was circulated to Congress last week in the wake of a hack at the agency that has exposed as many as 18 million current, former and potential federal workers.

“In our opinion, the project management approach for this major infrastructure overhaul is entirely inadequate and introduces a very high risk of project failure," wrote Patrick McFarland, the inspector general, in the audit.

The OPM head has been trying to weather a slate of criticism from the agency’s oversight arm since the breach was first revealed.

The inspector general (IG) has issued reports going back to 2007 blasting OPM for operating “in a decentralized manner,” said Michael Esser, the assistant inspector general for audits in the OPM’s IG office, during Tuesday's hearing.

Archuleta has promoted a plan she put together after taking office 18 months ago to address these security concerns and update the agency’s aging computer systems.

But in the flash audit, the IG said it suspected this plan was too ambitious, not properly documented and reliant on a no-bid contract to a single vendor.

“I understand his concerns,” Archuleta said during the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing. “All of our decisions are being tracked, documented and justified.”

Archuleta’s plan estimated an 18- to 24-month timeline for the upgrade, meaning it would be completed in late 2015 or early 2016.

“We believe this is overly optimistic and that the agency is highly unlikely to meet this target,” the IG said in the audit.

Archuleta stuck by her timeline at Tuesday’s hearing.

“He is suggesting that we move that out to [fiscal year] 2017,” she said. “I would like to move that much quicker given what we’ve already experienced.”