Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta resigned Friday, a day after it was revealed that some 22 million people – millions more than had previously been admitted – had their data hacked by what is believed to be Chinese attackers.
Beth Cobert, the U.S. Chief Performance Officer and a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, will take over as acting director of OPM Saturday.
The White House made it as clear as anyone ever does in these situations that Archuleta, who just Thursday proclaimed she wanted to stay on and address the problems at OPM, was fired.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama believed Archuleta was in fact not the right person to continue at OPM:
Director Archuleta did offer her resignation today. She did so of her own volition. She recognizes, as the White House does that the urgent challenges currently facing the Office of Personnel management require a manager with a specialized set of skills and experiences. That’s precisely why the president has accepted her resignation and assigned Beth Cobert to take on the responsibilities of the OPM director on an acting basis . . . she spent three decades working as a management expert at Mckinsey.
What the president thinks is that it’s quite clear, that new leadership with a set of skills and experiences, that are unique to the urgent challenges that OPM faces, are badly needed.
While not acknowledging any White House culpability – Earnest said Obama brought cybersecurity up at a recent Cabinet meeting, though or course that was after the hacking – Earnest tried to involve the Republicans in the problem, noting their desire to cut federal funding.
Right now there is a vigorous debate on Capitol Hill among Republicans who want to slash government funding, and slash funding for agencies, that will necessarily have an impact on a wide variety of priorities that these agencies confront, including basic cybersecurity.
So the clear lesson here is, if Obama can’t manage the government, it’s because the government isn’t big enough. Or something like that.
Even as he suggested a strong manager was needed, Earnest refused repeatedly to say specifically that the failure to prevent the hacking stemmed from a failure in management.