Workforce

After the breach: 21.5 million exposed individuals still waiting

Shutterstock image (by Pavel Ignatov): Alert icon.

The 21.5 million feds, contractors and others exposed in the Office of Personnel Management security clearance data breach have yet to receive official notification of their exposure, credit monitoring and other identity protection services, and until a contractor gets the award for those services, they’ll continue to wait.

That’s despite initial estimates that a contract would be out by Aug. 21.

It’s been nearly three months since news of the OPM breaches first hit, and as FCW reported, the pair of breaches that OPM learned of in April and had described as two separate intrusions was actually one sustained assault.

But while the 4 million feds exposed in the “first” breach have received notifications and credit monitoring, the agencies charged with awarding the contract for the much bigger notification job -- the General Services Administration and the Naval Sea Systems Command -- are missing self-imposed deadlines.

Quotations from vendors were due Aug. 14.

“GSA and NAVSEA, respectively, anticipate award of the BPA and first order in late August 2015,” GSA spokeswoman Stephanie Kenitzer said in an Aug. 24 email.

A week later, on the last day of August, Kenitzer told FCW that the Aug. 21 date, which appears in NAVSEA’s request documentation but not GSA’s, was never a firm deadline.

“That was not a date that was ever out on any of our postings,” she said, despite NAVSEA’s documents being hosted on GSA Interact. “We never had any intention of being able to make the award by that date.”

In multiple conversations, Kenitzer stressed the scope and importance of the contract.

“We want to make sure we get it right,” she said. “All the acquisition pieces have to line up properly for this to happen.”

On Aug. 31, Kenitzer could not say when the contract might be awarded.

In June, libertarian publication Reason noted that, given OPM learned of the data breach in April, the federal government was failing to meet the standards to which it holds the private sector when it comes to data breach notifications.

Two months later, the majority of affected individuals are still in the dark.

“This delay in the second contract could mean that OPM, through their various intergovernmental partnerships, is fine-tuning a necessary and expansive contract,” said National Federation of Federal Employees spokesman Drew Halunen. “It could also mean that OPM is simply dragging its feet and failing to grasp the immensity of this unprecedented data breach.”

Halunen also noted the “repeated failures” of the contract work on the first round of breach notifications, saying, “[W]e hope OPM has learned from their mistakes and will have an adequately-prepared outside vendor.”

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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