Oversight

Administration bows out of classified Hill briefing on OPM hack

Mac Thornberry

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) criticized administration officials for bailing on a scheduled briefing on the OPM hack.

The chairman of a powerful House panel lashed out at the Obama administration when officials canceled a planned briefing on the hack of Office of Personnel Management records, allegedly because the classified discussion was going to be transcribed.

The briefing for the House Armed Services Committee, which was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 17, was supposed to include officials from OPM, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security.

"OPM, Homeland Security and OMB's last-minute refusal to appear before this committee is unacceptable. Their excuse, that the testimony would be on the record, is disturbing," said committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) in an emailed statement. "The committee transcribes classified briefings regularly.... The department has already been forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in identity protection services to try and repair the damage. There is no excuse at all for being unwilling to explain on the record about how the breach happened and what we are doing to prevent another one. What could they possibly have to hide? What a disservice to the men and women who placed their trust in these agencies."

In a joint response, DHS, OPM and OMB said that since May the three departments "have engaged in more than a dozen classified briefings and open hearings to ensure our partners in Congress are supported with the most up-to-date information on this issue. Unfortunately, we were unable to accommodate a last-minute change in the request today. We look forward to working with our partners in Congress for a briefing in the future."

According to one Hill staffer, the administration briefers in question were a mix of career officials and political appointees.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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