Workforce

OPM breach notifications, round two

Shutterstock image: checking documents.

At long last, vendors can size up the official requirements for protecting the identities of 21.5 million affected by the Office of Personnel Management background check breach.

The full load could be more like 28 million, and whoever wins will have to let the feds inside their own databases.

Quotations are due Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. EDT, per the General Services Administration’s request for quotations, with any questions due through eBuy by Aug. 12.

The Naval Sea Systems Command solicitation assumes an award date of Aug. 21.

Gargantuan responsibility

Contracting papers released Aug. 4 reiterate the scope of exposed information – millions of Social Security numbers, background check interviews, fingerprints, usernames and passwords – and tasks would-be partners with supplying a full suite of solutions: website and call center services, credit and identity monitoring, identity theft insurance and identity restoration services.

Because of the huge scope of the breach exposure, the winning contractor will also be responsible for protecting the dependent minor children of breach victims – NAVSEA estimates that includes about 6.4 million people.

Contractors will be responsible for a minimum of $1 million in identity theft insurance per affected individual.

After a long notification delay, the feds plan to move fast.

The contractor will have 12 weeks after the award to issue notifications, but, “The government expects to complete the bulk of notifications within the first weeks of the task order award,” NAVSEA’s solicitation states.

(NAVSEA, brought in to help because of its experience “awarding large and complex contracts,” will work with GSA, OPM and the Office of Management and Budget to make the final award.)

Not repeating the same mistakes

The feds won’t give the winning contractor free rein.

“The contractor shall support security onsite inspections by the government at any location where protected information is collected, stored or sued,” the NAVSEA solicitation states.

Several times throughout the document, NAVSEA adds the caveat, “The government reserves the right to inspect and validate the contractor’s facilities, protocols, and processes for compliance.”

That caution comes after compromised contractor credentials were fingered as the key to the OPM breaches.

OPM’s contractor for the first round of notifications, CSID, faced criticism for its handling of the breach response.

Part of that criticism: Feds were uncertain of the trustworthiness of emails coming from a .com address, a concern so substantial that the Defense Department shut off breach notifications for several days.

The next round of notifications might avoid that problem.

“The contractor shall establish a dedicated, branded website for impacted individuals,” the new contracting specifications state. “The government may require the site to link with a dot.gov web page.”

CSID also drew fire when some feds claimed they started getting telemarketing robocalls after signing up for identity protection services. 

“[M]arketing of any kind” is prohibited in the new contracting paperwork.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.

Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.

Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.

Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.


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