Technology

US agencies fail to attend OPM data breach hearing

Committee chair Mac Thornberry said the non-appearance was "disturbing" Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said the non-appearance was "disturbing"

Three US government agencies did not attend a Congressional briefing about a major data breach that affected the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The OPM, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said they did not attend as the session would be on the record.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said transcription was common.

He said the incident was "disturbing".

The OPM cyber-attack, which affected personal data on more than 22 million government employees, came to light this summer.

It is believed that a variety of personal information was stolen - including more than 5.6 million employee fingerprint records.

In a joint statement, the three agencies said they had engaged in "more than a dozen classified briefings and open hearings" to keep congress updated on the 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," they added.

'Unacceptable'

"OPM, Homeland Security and OMB's last-minute refusal to appear before this committee is unacceptable," said Mr Thornberry.

"Their excuse, that the testimony would be on the record, is disturbing. The committee transcribes classified briefings regularly.

"Let me be clear; this briefing covers the largest government data breach in history."

Officials from the Department of Defense and the intelligence community did attend the briefing and testified as planned.

Two breaches were discussed at the session, including one regarding the loss of personal information on employees who had applied for security clearance or had such clearance renewed since 2000.

The OPM's director, Katherine Archuleta, resigned in July over the breaches.