OPM chief resigns in wake of data breach: Who’s next in line?

Katherine Archuleta is resigning following a cybersecurity breach during her tenure that put the data of 21.5 million people at risk, US officials said Friday.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File
US Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee concerning the data breech that affected millions of federal employees personal data, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23. Ms. Archuleta is resigning in the aftermath of computer hacks that put the personal data of more than 21 million government employees and contractors at risk, US officials said on Friday.

Just 24 hours after telling reporters that she would not resign from the leadership of the US government’s Office of Personnel Management, Katherine Archuleta did just that. The decision comes after leaders from both sides of the political aisle called for Ms. Archuleta to step down following a cybersecurity breach during her tenure that put the data of 21.5 million people at risk.

Archuleta will now be temporarily replaced by the agency’s Deputy Director Beth Cobert, who will begin in her new role on Saturday.

Ms. Cobert was confirmed in her role as Deputy Director in October 2013. Before joining the agency, Cobert spent nearly thirty years at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, eventually becoming a director and senior partner.

“During her tenure, she worked with corporate, not-for-profit and government entities on key strategic, operational and organizational issues across a range of sectors, including financial services, health care, legal services, real estate, telecommunications, and philanthropies,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget biography.

After being nominated for the deputy director position in 2013, Cobert attributed her desire to work in public service to her mother.

“I would like to especially recognize my mother. She and my late father were role models for me of the importance of being engaged, involved citizens and giving back to the community. My mother is still an active volunteer at age 90, including continuing to be a stalwart of civic engagement efforts and adult education programs in Montclair, NJ, where I was raised,” Cobert said in a statement prior to her confirmation.

Leaders in Washington welcomed the news Friday that Archuleta would be replaced.

"This change in leadership is also an acknowledgement that we cannot simply place blame on the hackers, but need to take responsibility for the protection of personal information that is so obvious a target," Adam Schiff, California Rep. and senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committe, told the Associated Press on Friday.

On Thursday, OPM announced it would notify the 21.5 million individuals affected by the breach, and offer them at least three years of credit monitoring and fraud protection services free of charge.

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