Wanted to be sure you saw today’s blog post by Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) on Patch sites in Maryland about the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breaches and how it is concerning for Fifth District federal employees, retirees, contractors and their families. To read the post, click here or see below:
OPM Data Breaches Hit Close to Home
By Congressman Steny H. Hoyer
The two data breaches recently revealed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which exposed the personal and sensitive information of millions of Americans, hits particularly close to home in the Fifth Congressional District. The first reported breach exposed the records of 4.2 million federal employees and retirees, and a second breach involved background investigation information from more than 21.5 million Americans – some of whom were also affected by the first breach – who are federal employees, retirees, contractors, and their family members.
Maryland is home to more than 300,000 federal employees, and I am proud to represent 62,000 of them in the Fifth District. This cyber attack is very troubling for Maryland’s dedicated public servants who play a critical role in maintaining the safety, security, and well-being of our country. The individuals affected by this data breach are food inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration in Beltsville, who work hard to ensure that the food we eat is safe. They are medical researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, who are trying to rid the world of terrible diseases and save millions of lives. They are the scientists at NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, who provide forecasting and analysis that travelers, farmers, and investors rely on every day. These hard-working public servants should not have to worry about whether the personal data they submitted to their employing agencies is safe and secure and that it won’t fall into the hands of hackers.
Last week, I hosted a meeting on Capitol Hill with the presidents of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) and Members of Congress representing the National Capital Region. Together, AFGE and NTEU have more than 900,000 members who serve in our federal workforce. I met with their leaders to hear their concerns following these data breaches, in addition to discussing other critical issues currently facing federal employees and retirees. I share their frustration that not enough resources were in place to prevent these data breaches and that some in Congress continue to disparage the important service and contributions of our federal workforce.
I have already urged OPM to implement comprehensive credit and personal data protections for everyone whose data may have been accessed – along with their family members whose data may also have been compromised. I will continue to work with OPM’s Interim Director, Beth Cobert, and my Congressional colleagues to ensure that Marylanders and all Americans serving our country have their personal information safeguarded.
While Director Katherine Archuleta has since resigned, her departure does not begin to solve the underlying problems that led to these cyber security incidents. These breaches are a wake-up call for Congress to act and help make our information networks more secure. It is imperative that OPM now identifies how these breaches occurred and makes sure that technology systems are updated and safeguards put in place to prevent this from reoccurring. I will continue to do all I can to ensure that the safety of federal employees’ personal data is not placed in jeopardy.