Yesterday’s revelations about the OPM hack being six times the size the government originally admitted to was accompanied by assurances from OPM director Katherine Archuleta that she would not resign. Today, she has broken that promise, stepping down from the post.
In its official press release yesterday, the OPM said that Archuleta had “initiated a comprehensive review of the architectural design of OPM’s IT systems, to identify and immediately mitigate any other vulnerabilities that may exist, and assess OPM’s data sharing and use policies. That review is ongoing.”
There have been calls for her resignation from Congress, and from Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who called on the White House to fire her. There has been talk about Congress impeaching her, if she would not go voluntarily.
But now she’s gone, so suddenly that the URL for the ABC News/Associated Press post on her resignation still reads “US personnel chief resists calls to resign”:
The head of the government’s personnel office has resigned in the wake of a massive data breach on her watch.
A White House official says President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta on Friday morning. She’ll stay on the job through the end of the day.
The official says deputy director Beth Cobert will become acting director starting Saturday.
Archuleta’s resignation comes the day after her agency disclosed that hackers stole the personal information of more than 21 million people. Previous government estimates of how many were affected by the breach were far smaller.
Everything about her tenure – from wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on cybersecurity that was easily penetrated by Chinese hackers, to her evasive performance before Congress – was completely unacceptable.
Archuleta stepping down, however, does not answer the question of why President Obama appointed her to the job. Archuleta was not remotely qualified for the position she held. She was the worst kind of political hire, handed a job by an inept Administration in exchange for loyal service to the Obama campaign. Her background, as thumbnailed by Jim Geraghty of National Review:
Before becoming the head of OPM, Katherine Archuleta had no background in the kind of work the agency does. Archuleta, a lawyer and former Clinton administration official, was national political director for President Obama’s reelection campaign. She served as the chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís, and was the City of Denver’s lead planner for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Like the president, she has roots in “community organizing”: She co-founded the Latina Initiative, a Colorado organization aimed at getting more Hispanic voters involved in politics. (In 2011, the Latina Initiative suspended its operations, citing insufficient funding.) Nothing in this record suggests any expertise in the vitally important human resources and record-keeping functions OPM is supposed to serve.
Before the hack, Archuleta’s primary goals at OPM appeared to be increasing the diversity of the federal workforce and implementing Obamacare’s changes to federal workers’ health-insurance options.
If you want to blame Republicans for not doing more to weed her out during confirmation hearings, fine, but those hearings are usually formalities anyway – imagine what the media would have done to Republicans who rallied against her thin resume. In any event, the responsibility for appointing qualified people to important offices lies with the executive.
The “hackers” didn’t even do much hacking – they had valid user names and passwords. There is no easy way to recover from the entire U.S. human-intelligence apparatus being compromised by China, and buying credit-monitoring service for 25 million potential identity theft victims is not going to prevent utter chaos from erupting if any significant portion of that stolen data is used for identity theft. Who knows how much leverage America’s adversaries will gain over our government officials with the data that has been stolen?
Archuleta’s resignation is necessary. It was necessary the day after this story broke, not weeks later, with her still trying to hang on for a day after the full truth finally leaked out. But it is not enough.
Update: What changed to push Archuleta out? She was still shrugging off calls for her resignation after the big OPM news dump about 25 million hacking victims yesterday. As noted above, another round of posts placidly observing her refusal to depart was percolating through the media. It all happened a bit fast for even the snappiest of internal snap polls to conclude the public demanded her ouster. Is there some other bad news coming? Or was Archuleta’s goose cooked by the discover that she was one of the fools who mocked Mitt Romney for accurately warning about Chinese cyber-espionage during the 2012 campaign?
— Katherine Archuleta (@Archuleta2012) October 22, 2012
Update: Archuleta had one last word salad to serve up on her way out the door. Her resignation statement said, in part:
Today I informed the OPM workforce that I am stepping down as the leader of this remarkable agency and the remarkable people who work for it. 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.
You can almost hear the “Everything is Awesome” song from the LEGO Movie playing in the background. “Move beyond current challenges?” Does she fully understand what happened on her watch?
Update: When I said “If you want to blame Republicans for not doing more to weed her out during confirmation hearings, fine,” I didn’t expect the Democrats-with-bylines at CNN to take me up on it so quickly.
But the steaming hot new media take is that Archuleta is a Republican problem, because they didn’t block her nomination: “Aides to Republican lawmakers who voted for her confirmation now acknowledge they didn’t pay enough attention to the importance of technology in the agency Archuleta was taking over.”
Bear in mind that the same article also mentions “political concerns at the time about how the agency, which serves as the federal government’s HR department, would implement parts of the health care law opposed by Republicans.” The Republican caucus did vote against Archuleta, 35-8, but unfortunately for America, Democrats were running the Senate at the time, so that was that.
If Republicans had somehow managed to block her, they would have been simultaneously pilloried as (a) obstructionists blinded by hatred of ObamaCare, (b) misogynists trying to keep a good-hearted woman away from a promising job, and (c) racists who hate both Latina women and history-making black presidents.
Sorry, hacks, but Katherine Archuleta belongs to Barack Obama, and the OPM catastrophe is an Obama production, one hundred percent. This recurring meme that Republicans are supposed to “fix” Democrat programs and save them from their crony excesses needs to be put out of our misery, and if they can’t be anything close to impartial, the media at least needs to stop helping Obama avoid responsibility for every single thing he does.