OPM spreads hack fallout costs to other agencies

OPM spreads hack fallout costs to other agencies

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) wants federal agencies to help pay for credit monitoring services offered to the 21.5 million people victimized by the recent breach at the agency.

The agency is strategizing about how to notify and provide identity fraud protections for the individuals affected by a breach of the agency’s security clearance database. Victims will have access to three years of monitoring services, which will come from an outside contractor.

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Part of the solution appears to be spreading around the costs of that contract.

“Given the limited resources available to OPM at this time to deal with a contract of this size, agencies will be asked to contribute FY 2015 funding to cover the first full year’s costs of credit monitoring and related services/benefits for the second incident involving 21.5M individuals,” said an email that Beth Cobert, OPM acting director, sent to other agencies, according to multiple reports.

Over the next two years, OPM will also raise its fees for security clearance services, Federal News Radio reported. The OPM processes over a million security clearances a year for agencies across the government.

The OPM has already spent over $20 million on a contract with credit monitoring firm CSID to help the 4.2 million employees hit by another breach at the agency, revealed earlier in June.

Those victims were given access to 18 months of credit monitoring services.

The expanded scale of the second breach, combined with the extended credit monitoring services means the upcoming contract will easily surpass the $20 million awarded for the first breach.

The OPM has taken an revised budget request to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will markup the bill that funds the OPM on Wednesday.

“We need to give them the resources that are needed,” Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanProposed IRS reporting requirements threaten taxpayer privacy, burden community financial institutions  More than ever, we must 'stand to' — and stand behind — our veterans Trump getting tougher for Senate GOP to ignore MORE (R-Ark.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on general government, told The Hill earlier in July. “But along with that we need to make sure that they're held accountable, that those resources are spent wisely.”

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal workers union, called on lawmakers to heed the OPM's revised request and give the agency emergcy funds to cover its costs. 

“AFGE believes OPM’s action is unprecedented and improper," said AFGE National President J. David Cox. "There is certainly a need for additional resources to address this important potential national security breach. But diverting agency resources from serving taxpayers and potentially impacting their ability to fund employee salaries and expenses."

If not Congress, AFGE believes President Obama can step in.

“This is a matter of a national security breach, and we believe that the president has sufficient authority to assist OPM in covering the potential costs associated with this operational crisis,” Cox said.

— Updated 5:31 p.m.