by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jim Geraghty of National Review Online asks how the federal government could have failed to prevent a massive hack of government records by Chinese operatives.
By now, it’s clear that hackers — believed to be tied to the Chinese government – stole files from the Office of Personnel Management that amount to a giant “how to blackmail anyone in the federal government” manual. This was America’s “cyber 9/11,” exposing an administration full of true believers in the expansion of government who can’t handle the most basic tasks of secret-keeping.
How does a government failure so consequential — a foreign power accessing 18 million confidential records, including the intimate personal details of federal workers’ infidelity, drug abuse, and personal debts uncovered during the background-check process for security clearances — happen?
For many Obama critics on and off the Hill, the answer lies in a troubling pattern of incompetent management from Obama appointees selected more for their political loyalty than for their expertise, skill, or leadership abilities.
Before becoming the head of OPM, Katherine Archuleta had no background in the kind of work the agency does. Archuleta, a lawyer and former Clinton administration official, was national political director for President Obama’s reelection campaign. She served as the chief of staff to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís, and was the City of Denver’s lead planner for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Like the president, she has roots in “community organizing”: She co-founded the Latina Initiative, a Colorado organization aimed at getting more Hispanic voters involved in politics. (In 2011, the Latina Initiative suspended its operations, citing insufficient funding.) Nothing in this record suggests any expertise in the vitally important human resources and record-keeping functions OPM is supposed to serve.
Before the hack, Archuleta’s primary goals at OPM appeared to be increasing the diversity of the federal workforce and implementing Obamacare’s changes to federal workers’ health-insurance options. …
… Upon her arrival in the post, she was touted by the Obama administration as “the first Latina Director” of OPM. The White House website declared, “Katherine shares President Obama’s vision for diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce” and added, “OPM has recognized and acknowledged the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the federal work force, and the potential and talent they have to offer.” Information technology and cyber-security were not mentioned.