OPM nominee clears Senate panel

OPM nominee clears Senate panel
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Beth Cobert is one step closer to being approved as the permanent director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved Cobert’s nomination to head the agency behind the largest-ever government hack.

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“She has a strong record of strong management and she is the right person for this job,” said Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Critics blast EPA move as 'license to pollute' during pandemic | Trump expected to roll back Obama mileage standards| Group plans to sue over rollback of water law Trump administration expected to roll back Obama-era mileage standards Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy MORE (D-Del.), the committee’s ranking member, in his opening statement.

Cobert has been the OPM’s acting director since June, when former Director Katherine Archuleta resigned in the wake of the data breaches that exposed over 22 million people’s personal information.

In November, President Obama tapped Cobert to take over the agency full time.

In her first few months on the job, Cobert received praise from both sides of the aisle for her work to overhaul the OPM’s archaic networks.

"Beth is highly-regarded from her time in both the public and private sectors. She is impressive, decisive and well-respected on both sides of the aisle in Congress," Carper said in a statement Wednesday.

Cobert's background at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where she worked to streamline the government’s plodding process for acquiring information technology, was seen as giving her the proper skill set to address the OPM’s lagging digital defenses.

But the bipartisan comity hit a snag earlier this month, when the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena seeking documents related to the OPM hacks.

Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah) specifically called out Cobert for dragging her feet on responding to the committee’s requests.

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

At her nomination hearing, Cobert insisted that “we have been working very actively to be responsive” to the committee’s requests for information, noting the OPM is a “small agency” and such requests require a “real commitment of resources.”

For the most part, though, the subpoena wasn’t a major topic in the hearing. Many senators praised the nominee.

“I think you're a first-class individual, and we're very glad you're willing to serve and I want this nomination to move forward,” said Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRemembering Tom Coburn's quiet persistence Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner GOP seeks up to 0 billion to maximize financial help to airlines, other impacted industries MORE (R-Wis.), who chairs the Homeland Security panel.