Many Latino leaders lamented the resignation of one of the few senior Hispanic officials in the Obama administration, who stepped down Friday as criticism of her grew because of an unprecedented hacking of her agency’s databases.
The leaders said that Katherine Archuleta, the first Hispanic to serve as director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, had brought a new, firm commitment to diversifying the workforce in government offices.
Several leaders expressed concern that the lines of communication they had obtained with OPM, and the efforts they and Archuleta had launched to recruit Latinos into federal jobs, would come to a halt with her departure.
“I am sorry to see Katherine Archuleta step down under these circumstances,” said Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), and executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), in a statement.
“Throughout her career, she has distinguished herself as a bridge-builder and effective leader.”
“Having worked with her directly on the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment,” Sanchez said, “I saw first-hand her commitment and energy in taking on the vast, complicated federal personnel system to improve the recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion of Latinos in the federal workforce.”
Some felt that Archuleta was being forced to be a scapegoat for the massive cybersecurity failings.
The hackers — widely believed to be China's government — had infiltrated her agency's databases as well as background-check records for millions who applied for U.S. security clearances.
Archuleta's resignation came one day after the administration disclosed that the number of people affected by the federal data breach was far greater than previously known.
Calls had grown louder in recent days for the resignation of Archuleta, who many saw as slow to react to concerns about cybersecurity in the agency’s databases.
Democrats had joined Republicans in calling for her to step down.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said of her resignation: 'The Obama Administration needs to take this opportunity to articulate a credible plan of action, and more thoroughly address the legitimate concerns of the American people, particularly the millions who have been harmed by the lack of competence in confronting a massive cyberattack.”
In addition to 4.2 million people whose records were stolen in an initial hack first revealed earlier this year, more than 21.5 million had their Social Security numbers and other sensitive information stolen in a second hack, believed to be the biggest in U.S. history.
“Katherine Archuleta’s resignation is a loss for all of us given her talent and expertise,” said Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO), in a statement to Fox News Latino. “The extent of the data breach at OPM shows the problems are much more widespread than what was under her control.”
Brent Wilkes, the national executive director for the League of United Latin American Citizens, the country's largest and oldest Hispanic organization, said that Archuleta was doing an exemplary job of helping OPM carry its out its mission of having a federal workforce that reflects the general population.
“We’re terribly disappointed here at LULAC,” said Wilkes in an interview with Fox News Latino. “She was an outstanding public servant. She was moving the ball forward for the Latino community, in ensuring that we had a federal workforce that looked like America.”
“That is the main job of the OPM, not cybersecurity, which should be more the responsibility of the Defense Department or Homeland Security,” Wilkes said. “I don’t understand why Katherine Archuleta is taking the fall for a situation that should be addressed by Congress and the administration in a more holistic manner.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.