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Handling of hack issues at OPM has honchos facing off

Getting beyond the recent information hacks of the Office of Personnel Management is proving to be as big a challenge as one might expect when dealing with the federal bureaucracy. What makes this particular situation more disturbing, though, is that the friction is being generated from within OPM itself.

As we have reported in recent weeks, the breaches by purported Chinese hackers have left the information about tens of millions of people, federal workers, contractors, applicants and their some of their families vulnerable to exploitation.

Concerns have been raised that workers need to be especially attentive to be sure that if their information gets used by unknown third parties for illegal activities the employees don't get held accountable.

As the Federal Times has reported, the OPM is providing up to 18 months of free credit monitoring and a certain level of liability protection. Meanwhile, the OPM is moving fast to try to upgrade its information technology infrastructure and security. But the agency's own Inspector General is complaining that the project is being mismanaged.

Specifically, the IG objects to the fact that OPM leaders proceeded with some elements of the job before having a clear idea of the full scope of what would be required to complete it. It didn't help that, after ignoring IG recommendations, OPM came to realize that the undertaking is going to cost more than double the $21 million it originally asked for and received from Congress.

The IG also takes issue with the fact that all four phases of the project are contracted to one company. He says each phase should have been put out for independent bids to be compliant with the law.

As a result of the internal tension, at least one leading member of Congress is saying that "to regain the trust of Congress" OPM needs to start taking the IG's advice.

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