OPM Director Archuleta Resigns in Wake of Data Breaches

Katherine Archuleta is resigning as OPM director in the wake of the recent data breaches that hit the agency’s computer systems according to a White House official.

Katherine Archuleta, the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), will resign on Friday, July 10, according to a White House official. The resignation comes one day after it was revealed that the agency’s systems had been hacked and has resulted in the theft of the personal information of more than 25 million people. She had been in the position as OPM director since November 2013. She is listed on FedsDataCenter.com as making $179,700.

Ms. Archuleta had recently stated that she has no plans to resign and was committed to continuing her work for OPM. The White House, which had previously stated that President Obama was still confident in her leadership, had said as recently as yesterday that there were no plans to change its position despite the calls for her to resign after the massive breach of personal data.

News about the breaches has been coming in waves since June, and the volume of information combined with conflicting reports means it can get confusing. For a summary of the data breaches and how readers may be impacted, check out What Do You Need to Know About the OPM Data Breaches?.

Some of the publicity about the problems at OPM were also resulting in negative publicity about the Obama administration and its appointees in general with written comments such as “For many Obama critics on and off the Hill, the answer lies in a troubling pattern of incompetent management from Obama appointees selected more for their political loyalty than for their expertise, skill, or leadership abilities.” No doubt, the political pressure was building to cut their political losses before the publicity gets worse.

In her statement, Ms. Archuleta said: “This morning, I offered, and the President accepted, my resignation as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management. I conveyed to the President that I believe it is best for me to step aside and allow new leadership to step in, enabling the agency to move beyond the current challenges and allowing the employees at OPM to continue their important work.”

Beth Cobert, the deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget, will step in to temporarily replace Ms. Archuleta until a permanent replacement for the OPM director’s position has been found.

When she first began her work at OPM, she announced a plan that included technology upgrades to its antiquated computer systems and increasing protections against cyberintrusions.

“This is the absolute right call. OPM needs a competent, technically savvy leader to manage the biggest cybersecurity crisis in this nation’s history,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said in a statement. Chaffetz had called for her resignation in June stating “If we want a different results, we’re going to have to have different people.” Referring to Ms. Archuleta and  the agency’s chief information officer, Donna Seymour, he contended that “Those two had an opportunity to right the ship…they did not get it done, and there should be consequences.”

According to news reports, the agency’s chief information officer, Donna Seymour, who also was under fire from Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to resign, will apparently will remain in her job. Her salary is also listed in the FedsDataCenter database as $179,700.

Of course, as noted by NFFE President William R. Dougan, this resignation does not end the problems now faced by federal employees as a result of this hack at OPM. He wrote in a press release: “The announcement of OPM Director Archuleta’s resignation puts federal employees in a dire state of uncertainty. With Director Archuleta’s resignation, the volatility of this situation has escalated exponentially and we face a void of leadership. All the while, millions of federal employees that have had their personal information compromised continue to go without the suite of protections they need and deserve from OPM. The administration needs to get control of this situation and they need to provide stable leadership that those affected can turn to for answers in the wake of this unprecedented attack.”

Good advice. All of us in the federal community hope that his concerns are addressed immediately.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47