The gov­ern­ment’s se­cu­rity holes

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re­gard­ing the June 17 ed­i­to­rial “Breach of re­spon­si­bil­ity”:

As a for­mer fed­eral em­ployee and con­trac­tor who held se­cu­rity clear­ances for 47 years, I am very wor­ried about the se­cu­rity breach at the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment and the po­ten­tial for iden­tity theft down the road.

Fir­ing ev­ery­body in au­thor­ity at the OPM might sound like a so­lu­tion, but all it does is de­lay ef­fec­tive ac­tion and pro­vide ex­cuses for the new lead­er­ship. Give the OPM the re­sources it needs and hold of­fi­cials’ feet to the fire through the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice and the OPM’s in­spec­tor gen­eral.

It is clear that the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity does not have the au­thor­ity, abil­ity or ca­pac­ity to con­trol the be­hav­ior of other ex­ec­u­tive branch or­ga­ni­za­tions. The DHS pro­vides the tools, but it’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of each agency’s se­cu­rity per­son­nel to se­cure the agency’s data, sys­tems and net­works.

Sug­gest­ing that Congress ex­am­ine the DHS’s re­la­tion­ships and pow­ers vis-à-vis other ex­ec­u­tive agen­cies was in­ter­est­ing, but given that the DHS is over­seen by 108 com­mit­tees and sub­com­mit­tees in the House and Se­nate, noth­ing timely or mean­ing­ful would come from such an ef­fort. Congress needs to heal it­self be­fore it can heal the DHS.

Dennis Copeland, Oak Hill

I re­ceived a let­ter and an e-mail from the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment last week. Each in­formed me that my per­sonal in­for­ma­tion may have been com­pro­mised— once in a DHS hack­ing in­ci­dent last fall and in a more re­cent event at the OPM. I’ve been of­fered credit mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices and $1 mil­lion in iden­tity theft in­sur­ance. My in­for­ma­tion may have been on a hard drive that van­ished at the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion sev­eral years ago. I re­ceived sim­i­lar ser­vices af­ter that in­ci­dent.

How much money is spent pro­vid­ing iden­tity theft ser­vices to fed­eral em­ploy­ees, re­tirees and ap­pli­cants? At a min­i­mum, ser­vices should be con­sol­i­dated for an em­ployee af­fected by mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents. The ser­vices I’ve been pro­vided are from dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies.

It’s ironic that the e-mail from the OPM in­cluded stan­dard point­ers for avoid­ing iden­tity theft. Un­for­tu­nately, one glar­ingly ob­vi­ous piece of ad­vice was omit­ted: Avoid work­ing for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Deirdre Brad­way, Tra­cys Land­ing, Md.

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