National Security

Obama Administration Taking Weeks to Hire Contractor to Help Those Affected by OPM Hack

Former OPM director Katherine Archuleta
Former OPM director Katherine Archuleta / AP

The Obama administration is responding to the cyber attack on Office of Personnel Management (OPM) networks that compromised personal data of 22.1 million Americans by embarking on a weeks-long process to select a contractor who will notify affected individuals that their information has been stolen. 

National Journal reported that OPM is working with the Department of Defense to hire a contractor to notify individuals affected by the breach, which the government agency acknowledged two weeks ago, and supply those affected with identity fraud protection services. 

According to a request for information circulated to prospective contractors by the General Services Administration last week, the selected contractor will not be announced until at least Aug. 14. 

The request included a preliminary timeline specifying the "‘best effort’ plan of action" to provide assistance to individuals affected by the massive cyber attack, which was carried out over the course of the year and originated from Chinese sources. 

One of the contractors in the running is CSID, the contractor hired by OPM to provide similar services to the 4.2 million individuals who had their personal data compromised in a separate cyber attack on OPM networks that the government acknowledged in June.

CSID endured plenty of criticism for its work, with individuals reporting hours-long waits on the contractor’s call center line, website crashes when they attempted to sign up for protection services, and incorrect information on their accounts.

Still, CSID boasts that 22 percent of the 4.2 million affected signed up for its fraud protection services.

OPM has said it would provide those affected by the newly announced breach with at least three years of credit monitoring and protection against identity theft.

According to an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security, the Chinese-origin cyber attacks on OPM network are believed to be part of a larger-scale operation aimed to steal information for intelligence or military reasons.

Meanwhile, President Obama thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday for his country’s role in securing the Iran nuclear arms deal.