The 2015 OPM data breach was a case of substantial theft of goverment records (according to Wikipedia):

The final estimate of the number of stolen records is approximately 21.5 million. This includes records of people who had undergone background checks, but who were not necessarily current or former government employees. It has been described by federal officials as among the largest breaches of government data in the history of the United States.

Both Trump and Obama have said some things about it; both blamed China, basically.

But Trump was not among the Republican leadership when the breach was made public. So what was the GOP leadership's reaction at the time? What did they call for the US to do in retaliation? Did they [try to] pass anything in Congress in that regard?

I was able to discover myself that they ("the top three House Republicans", John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise) called in a "coordinated statement" for the OPM head to be fired:

President Obama must take a strong stand against incompetence in his administration and instill new leadership at OPM so we can move forward in a fashion that begins to restore the confidence of the American people.

That article doesn't mention any other measures they might have called for (especially against the perpetrators); it also doesn't mention China at all, so perhaps nothing was known at the time about the perpetrators. The GOP leadership might have made additional statements later as more facts became known. Hence my question; what measures did they call for against those responsible for perpetuating the hack/breach?


2 Answers 2


They had Archuleta resign as the scapegoat as their main tangible action.

Obama's appointee Beth Cobert came in and implemented lowest-hanging-fruit reforms on a budget, so two-factor authentication for staff, malware software, monitoring of their own networks, and blocking staff from using personal mail websites on government computers. As it's assumed the Chinese got through via a contractor's access point, OBM took back the responsibility for background checks of contractors rather than outsourcing it. More expensive changes, like actually updating outdated hardware has been less successful.

The Information Technology panel of the House Oversight Committee was periodically checking on OBM's progress as of the 2016 election, but I haven't heard anything towards that end since Trump took power.


The House Oversight Committee had jurisdiction over this matter and they issued, after brutal hearings--CIO, Donna Seymour, opted for retirement days before she was to endure another round of grilling by the House committee--, the official report which states

“The long-standing failure of OPM’s leadership to implement basic cyber hygiene, such as maintaining current authorities to operate and employing strong multi-factor authentication, despite years of warnings from the inspector general, represents a failure of culture and leadership, not technology,” and

“The agency’s senior leadership failed to fully comprehend the extent of the compromise, allowing the hackers to remove manuals and other sensitive materials that essentially provided a roadmap to the OPM IT environment and key users for potential compromise,”

The report contains 13 recommendations related to OPM organizational design, mission shifting, procurement practices, technology spend, and a host of matters that are designed to mitigate the disaster.

Jason Chaffetz, the Majority Leader of the committee who called for the resignation of the head of the OPM had this to say

"There are people that need to be held accountable because the first breach was unacceptable. But to not take it seriously, to mislead Congress, to delay the actions that would have prevented further loss really put people in harm's way because it went from roughly affecting 4 million to more than 20 million," he told the Associated Press in a Wednesday interview.

"This was a very extensive investigation, and despite all of the problems, I do have hope that Beth Cobert, who is the new Office of Personnel Management director [will make] some major, major changes….But unfortunately, you've got tens of millions of people whose information is already gone, and there's no putting that genie back in the bottle."

There was widespread recognition that China was behind this attack. Consider Susan Collins's statement

Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said the hackers were believed to be based in China.

Collins, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said the breach was “yet another indication of a foreign power probing successfully and focusing on what appears to be data that would identify people with security clearances”.

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