Most people don’t like being told they’ve made amistake and a few federal agencies decided they have had enough ofCongress telling them about their mistakes.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Office ofPersonnel Management (OPM), and the Office of Management and Budget(OMB) all declined to attend a congressional hearing on thehack of OPM that exposed the personal information of millions offederal employees, BBC reported Nov. 18.
Rep. Mac Thornberry , chairman of the House Armed ServicesCommittee, said in a statement â€œOPM, HomelandSecurity and OMBâ€™s last-minute refusal to appearbefore this committee is unacceptable.Â Their excuse,that the testimony would be on the record, isdisturbing â€¦ Let me be clear; this briefingcovers the largest government data breach in history.â€(RELATED: Lawmakers Press White House To StripOPMâ€™s Control Over SecurityClearances)
OPM was the target of a cyber attack in June that left roughly21 million federal employees exposed. Names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers, and other personally identifiableinformation were stolen. The information of employees and alsotheir family members and dependents was at risk. (RELATED: Federal Agencies Still Lacking OnCybersecurity After OPM Debacle)
â€œThe Department has already been forced tospend hundreds of millions of dollars in identity protectionservices to try and repair the damage.Â There is noexcuse at all for being unwilling to explain on the record abouthow the breach happened and what we are doing to prevent anotherone,â€ Thornberry said. â€œWhat couldthey possibly have to hide? What a disservice to the men and womenwho placed their trust in these agencies.â€
The departments released a joint statement Nov. 17 on theirabsence stating:
Since May, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Officeof Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of HomelandSecurity (DHS) have engaged in more than a dozen classifiedbriefings and open hearings to ensure our partners in Congress aresupported with the most up-to-date information on this issue.Unfortunately, we were unable to accommodate a last-minute changein the request today. We look forward to working with our partnersin Congress for a briefing in the future.
Cybersecurity hearings are a common occurrence nowforÂ targets, in addition to OPM, including both thepublic and private sector.
Up to 25,000 DHS employee records were exposed during a cyber attack in 2014 against afederal contractor responsible for security clearances.(RELATED: DHS Secretary Blasts San FranciscoSanctuary City Policy [VIDEO])
Anthem, the health insurance giant, was hacked in Feb. and therecords of up to 80 million customers were at risk. Additionally,because both Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield shared servers,between 8.8 million and 18.8 million Blue Cross customers were alsoaffected. (RELATED: US Healthcare Under Tidal Wave Of ChineseHacking)
â€œMembers of the Congress have an obligationto understand this serious issue.Â We have a role toplay in preventing another breach,â€ Thornberry said.â€œWe owe it to our constituents, our troops, andtheir families to be careful stewards of this matter, and we willnot stop until we get the information we are owed.â€