A recent letter from the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of the Inspector General to acting OPM director Beth Cobert says that OPM’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is hindering its ability to conduct investigations. The letter requests input from Cobert on how to rectify the problem.
Donna Seymour is OPM’s Chief Information Officer, and her name came up frequently during the hearings Congress conducted into the data breaches at the agency since Seymour’s office was the one most directly responsible for data security. Seymour also personally attended at least one of the hearings.
Since the IG is likely conducting investigations surrounding the data breaches at the agency, it certainly doesn’t look very good for OPM that its own IT department has suddenly started impeding the investigations.
In the letter, IG Patrick McFarland said that in the past, his working relationship with OPM’s IT office has been good but that recently changed which makes him suspicious. The letter states:
In the past, the OIG has had a positive relationship with the OCIO. Although the OIG may have identified problems within the OCIO’s areas of responsibility, we all recognized that we were on the same team, and the OCIO would leverage our findings in an effort to bring much needed attention and resources to OPM’s information technology (IT) program. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, and indeed, recent events make the OIG question whether the OCIO is acting in good faith.
The letter points out that one of the most egregious examples of the roadblocks erected by Seymour’s office was to undertake “a complex and costly IT infrastructure improvement project without any notification to our office.” McFarland then added, “It is disturbing that the OCIO would exclude the OIG from such a major initiative, especially given the fact that it was undertaken in response to the March 2014 data breach.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) recently sent a letter to OPM direct Beth Cobert asking her to fire Seymour.
A copy of the IG letter to Cobert is included below.